What's with the license plate stickers? It's a supply-chain thing

Simpler can be better. But not when it comes to the pared-down license plate stickers the Illinois secretary of state's office is dispensing, some drivers think.

“What's the deal with the new plate renewal stickers that only show the year of expiration?” reader Dale Maradei asked.

“The old ones showed the month, year and plate number. If you do not remember when your plate expires, you could be in trouble. Are they trying to save money on printing costs?”

It's not printing costs creating sticker shock; it's supply-chain dysfunction involving paper products.

Since almost forever, the state has distributed vehicle registration stickers with the month and year of expiry in large font, along with the license plate and inventory numbers in small print.

But not now. Current stickers show a generic “2023” and “Illinois.”

Because of supply shortages, the company that makes the durable, adhesive paper couldn't produce the stickers in the usual format.

The problem emerged last summer and affects stickers given out in 2022 that expire in 2023.

The agency found another source, but those stickers come in rolls and can't be printed individually, hence the generic date, secretary of state spokesman David Druker explained.

“We prefer the original system, but it seems to serve the purpose at this difficult time,” Druker said.

The agency hopes to return to its normal system next year. Other states, including Minnesota, are suffering similar problems.

In the meantime, Druker reminded Illinoisans that although Secretary of State Jesse White has extended the deadline for expired driver's licenses, learner's permits and state IDs until Dec. 1, there's no registration sticker grace period.

Democrat White, 88, is retiring, leaving Republican state Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington and former state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a Chicago Democrat, battling for the job in the Nov. 8 election.

Brady said he understands that the scaled-back sticker was a temporary solution but reinforced “the original way with the month and year is the best for consumers and for law enforcement. Overall, it's the most efficient way to proceed with renewal stickers.”

Asked if police use the sticker when they make traffic stops, Kane County sheriff's office Chief Deputy Patrick Gengler said, “Yes and no.”

“Most of the time, an officer probably just runs the plate to see if it is valid as opposed to just using the sticker,” Gengler explained. “Running the plates through the computer gives us the up-to-date information as opposed to just what an officer sees on the plate.”

But “sometimes we may just use that sticker as a basis for the stop,” Gengler said. “Most of the time we have other reasons for a stop other than that, but say you suspect a drunken driver and they are weaving or speeding. You usually want a secondary reason to justify the stop. You have a moving violation and a plate or equipment violation — it just gives you multiple reasons for the stop.”

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You should know

A couple of Daily Herald staffers received speeding tickets in the Hawkeye State near the Illinois border recently. And they're not the only ones caught by cameras on the I-80 bridge over the Mississippi River and Highway 67 in LeClaire, Iowa. From March 2021 to March 2022, the city issued 95,205 citations ranging from $50 to $500, Quad Cities-based WQAD-TV reported.

Of course, no one who reads this column speeds, but feel free to pass the warning on to leadfoots you know and love.

One more thing

Tickets and sponsorships are still available for the Chicago Area Clean Cities annual golf outing Oct. 7. The event, organized by the green vehicle and fuel advocacy agency, will take place at Maple Meadows Golf Club in Wood Dale. For more information, go to

Gridlock alert

Barrington Hills drivers should expect delays on County Line Road between Haegers Bend Road/Elgin Road and Hart Road as crews resurface pavement and construct new sidewalk ramps. Work wraps up in early December.

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Illinois' original license plate sticker features the year, month and other details. Courtesy of Dale Maradei
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