Take a sneak peek at Illinois' new license plates

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White on Tuesday announced he's starting a program to replace older license plates that he said won't cost the budget-strapped state additional money.

The program will start next year and will be paid for within the agency's current budget, White said during a news conference in Chicago. White says the program is needed because plate reflectivity diminishes with age, making it difficult for law enforcement to read plate numbers.

"This is a forward-thinking, long-term solution that does not require a complete replating overhaul, which would cost around $60 million," White said. "This replacement program is mindful of Illinois' state budget challenges, while also seeking to remove the oldest plates from our roads."

Under the program, the oldest plates will be replaced first. That means plates made in 2000 and 2001 will be replaced next year. Those made in 2002 and 2003 will be replaced in 2018. Each year the agency will replace old plates until 2027, when the process will start again and 2017 plates will be replaced.

The plan aims to have no plates on the road that are more than a decade old. There are about 9 million passenger vehicle owners in Illinois, White said.

Vehicle owners will receive mail notification if they qualify for new plates. Motorists who don't qualify for new plates but still want them can make requests starting in January for a replacement fee of $29.

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