Sea turtles are favorite Collier County specialty license plate
Louis Berney Daily News CorrespondentPublished 6:36 PM EST Nov 20, 2018
The endangered Florida sea turtle is dear to the hearts of many Collier County residents — and the most visible evidence is how many local drivers have bought the sea turtle specialty license plate.
A plate reading “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” is the most popular specialty tag in the county. The turtle plate was affixed to 3,103 vehicles in Collier through September, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The Florida license plate reading “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” is the most popular specialty tag in Collier County. The turtle plate was affixed to 3,103 vehicles in Collier through September 2018, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Naples resident John Weidenfeller’s white Honda Pilot is one of those 3,103 Collier County vehicles whose blue and off-white license plate portrays a turtle on the sand by the sea. Weidenfeller said he selected the plate because a share of the fee goes to protecting the turtle and supporting research about it.
“I want to see wildlife survive down here,” he said, “whether it’s sea turtles or bobcats.”
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Specialty plates allow Floridians to select a cause or an institution they like or support and then brandish it wherever they drive — for a cost ranging from $15 to $25 on top of the regular vehicle license registration fee.
Florida drivers can pick from among 135 specialty plates — a choice that exceeds those of all states but Texas and Virginia, according to reports. Every state provides a choice of specialty plates to registered vehicle owners, according to the website DMV.org.
The most popular plates in Collier County are environmentally oriented. Other specialty plates tout colleges and universities, sports teams, military service and law enforcement groups, and a variety of causes and mottos — ranging from “Kids Deserve Justice” to “Support Autism Programs” to “In God We Trust” to “Play Tennis.”
“Protect the Panther” is one of the top 10 specialty license plates in Collier County.Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
The popularity of the sea turtle plate is not unique to Collier. It was selected by 81,731 vehicle owners statewide, ranking it as the second most frequently purchased specialty plate in Florida. The favorite specialty plate is the tag touting the University of Florida — it’s on 96,671 vehicles.
The University of Florida plate, with a cartoonish gator baring its intimidating white teeth, can be found on 1,211 Collier vehicles, making it the most popular university or college plate in the county but only the 10th favorite overall among Collier drivers.
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Seven of the top 10 plates in Collier are related to the environment, if Endless Summer qualifies in that category. The others, besides Helping Sea Turtles Survive, are Protect the Panther, Endless Summer, Protect Wild Dolphins, Save the Manatee, Protect Our Reefs and Save Our Seas. Also breaking into the top 10, just before the University of Florida, are Golf Capital of the World and Marine Corps.
Statewide, eight of those plates made the top 10, joined by Florida State University and the Miami Heat.
The University of Florida plate can be found on 1,211 Collier vehicles, making it the most popular university or college plate in the county, but only the 10th favorite overall among Collier drivers.Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
The Miami Dolphins of the National Football League are the most popular pro sports team among license plate holders in Collier County, adorning 500 vehicles — to 478 for the Miami Heat.
Some 44,554 vehicles in Collier County bore specialty plates, and 1.58 million in the entire state, through September.
“Approximately 8 percent of all license plates in Florida are specialty plates as of September 30,” Alexis Bakofsky, deputy communications director for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Office of Communications, said in an email. “Approximately 12 percent of all license plates in Collier County are specialty plates.”
The Miami Dolphins are the most popular pro sports team among specialty license plate holders in Collier County.Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
The department has a contract with Pride Enterprises to produce the plates and currently pays $2.82 per specialty license plate, Bakofsky said. The cost is recouped via the specialty plate fee paid by the customer.
More: Two sea turtles rescued from red tide poisoning released on Naples beach
Additionally, in July of each year, the department keeps a small portion of the annual use fee for administrative costs, as authorized in section 320.08056(7), Florida Statutes.
Proceeds from the sea turtle plate go to the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and are used for sea turtle protection, research and recovery programs.
Collier County has submitted more than $45,000 through September to the conservation trust fund from the sale of the turtle plates.
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