July 7, 2017
Numbers crunch: OBX license plates are out of spaceSometime in 2018 the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles will run out of numbers for the OBX license plates.
By our calculations, that should be sometime in September or October of next year.
to John Brockwell, NCDMV Communications Officer, through June of this
year the OBX license plate numbers had reached 93,500.
“That means there’s 6,500 to go,” he said. Actually 6,499, but that’s quibbling.
plates were first issued in December, 1999 with three numbers. Digits
have been added through the years, but now there’s no more room on the
No one knows what will happen when the owner of the car
with license plate 99,999 walks out of the office in Manteo with the
highest OBX license plate number that can be issued.
doesn’t know, or if they do, they haven’t told anyone. “No decisions
have been made about what to do next,” Brockwell said. “There are no
plans right now.”
There are options, Brockwell said. “They may just put a letter at the end of the number.”
more OBX license plates been issued than expected? As it turns out,
that’s not something the DMV addresses. “DMV does not determine the
level of interest anticipated in special license plate designations,”
Brockwell wrote in an e-mail.
The OBX tag, of course, represents
the Outer Banks, and there is a legitimate question to be asked about
how an area with around 37,000 to 38,000 permanent residents could have
issued license plates two-and-a-half times greater than the entire
As it turns out, residency is not required to get an
OBX license plate. “Anybody can get an OBX license plate,” Brockwell
said. “They just have to come to Manteo to get it.
How we determined September or October of next year
December of 1999 to June of 2017 is 212 months. Dividing 200 into
93,500 we get 441 license plates issued on average every month.
Subtracting 93,500 from 100,000 we get 6,500 license plate numbers remaining. Ok, it’s supposed to be 6,499.
6,500 by 441 and we get 14.7 months to go at the current rate of
issuing new numbers, or one year and two to three months — September or
In theory, that means sometime in late August or September of 2018, North Carolina will have to decide what to do.