Alabama’s rule for automobile tags is a little different. There are 67 counties in the state, so license (British: licence) plates begin with the number 1 and go up to 67. Simple enough. Are they determined by population rank? Not exactly. Are they arranged in alphabetic order? Not exactly. Here’s Alabama’s scheme: Numbers 1 through 3 are reserved for the three most populous counties -- Jefferson (city of Birmingham) , Mobile (city of Mobile) , and Montgomery (city of Montgomery) . The remaining counties, in alphabetic order (leaving out Jefferson, Montgomery, and Mobile, of course) , receive tag numbers 4 through 67. So tags in Blount County begin with 8, tags in Calhoun County begin with 11, and tags in Tuscaloosa County begin with 63.
I don’t know what Florida’s scheme is nowadays, but when we lived there the tags were assigned by a county’s population ranking in 1960. Dade (Miami) was 1, Duval (Jacksonville) was 2, Hillsborough (Tampa) was 3, Pinellas (St. Petersburg) was 4, Escambia (Pensacola) was 5, Palm Beach (West Palm Beach) was 6, Orange (Orlando) was 7, Volusia (Daytona Beach) was 8, and so on, through all of Florida’s 67 counties. (Note. It is just a coincidence that Alabama and Florida both have 67 counties. That is not a requirement for a U.S. state. Georgia, for example, has 159 counties, and Texas has 254.)
Florida’s scheme stayed in place for several decades, long after the population of 1960 had shifted dramatically. There was also a sub-scheme that determined the second character on Florida license (British: licence) plates; it took into account the vehicle’s weight and use. For lightweight (economy) cars, the county population rank number was suffixed with a D. Medium-weight (normal?) cars had no suffix. For heavier cars, the suffix was W, and for the heaviest cars, the suffix was WW. If the car was rented or leased, the suffix was E. So one could be driving along and know for a certainty that the car ahead was a rented car (tourist at the wheel?) from Daytona Beach (8Ennnn where nnnn is replaced by numbers) and the car passing in the adjacent lane was a very heavy car from Fort Lauderdale (10WWnnnn) . I do not know how our brains managed to handle all of this important information. Of course, we were much younger then.
Georgia’s cars are taxed by the age of the vehicle (an ad valorem tax that decreases each year) . Florida’s cars, when we lived there, were taxed by weight, and the tax did not decrease each year.
There are 50 states in the U.S. (or 57 if you are President Obama) but I will not burden you with any more information regarding our license (British: licence) plates. I gave up long ago trying to understand why this state uses one scheme and that state uses another. It’s rather akin to sending good money after bad -- not worth the effort and to be avoided at all costs. But this I know -- there is not one America. There are
If you are beginning to think I may be an idiot savant, you are only half right.
If you care to tell us the auto tag scheme used in your locality, be my guest. I'm all ears -- but that is another post.
Tag, you’re it.