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When you can’t read the plate or see the stop sign


Harold Morgan says in an email that “the outside layer on my seven-year-old Centennial plate is beginning to peel.

“I have only seen a few faded plates in other states such as Texas and Arizona. … this is worth checking out. The new administration has an opportunity to do something good.”

Charlie Moore, spokesman for the state Taxation and Revenue Department, reached out to Motor Vehicle Division Director Alicia Ortiz, who says “the average life expectancy of any plate is five to eight years. The color red, in particular, is more susceptible than others to our high mountain desert sun and tends to fade pretty quickly.

“The condition of a plate depends on the age of the plate and whether or not it is protected – garaged or under a carport – from the sun. Vehicle owners can purchase a replacement plate ($10-$17) at any time.”

And the reason you would want to take the time and money to do that is it could cost you even more of each. Ortiz explains that “law enforcement officers can cite vehicle owners for plates that are illegible due to wear, damage or other causes, and require the vehicle owner to apply for and obtain a new plate. Most law enforcement agencies have not given this much priority, though, and most vehicle owners don’t feel like they should have to pay for a new plate – even if the one on their vehicle was initially issued many, many years ago.”

As for the newer N.M. license plate styles, “the most recently designed and implemented plates are chile, 2017, and turquoise, 2012. We have not produced balloon plates for quite a number of years, which is why many of those plates are really faded and difficult to read,” she says. “In many cases, a plate may look good in daylight, but be illegible at night. This is because the reflective sheeting has worn poorly.”

And while it makes sense to have license plates that can be read, Ortiz says “there have been attempts over the past two or three legislative sessions to mandate periodic plate replacement, but none has been successful.”

CAN’T SEE THE STOP SIGN FOR THE TREE: Jane Schwendeman emails that on a recent evening after dinner at Mr. Powdrell’s Barbeque on Central NE, “we drove through some side streets and almost ran a stop sign at the intersection of Dorothy and Chico. The stop sign was hidden by a pine tree, and we literally could not see it until we were at the intersection and had to slam on our brakes! It is a four-way stop and the pine tree needs its branches trimmed to avoid a serious accident!”

She adds “this is an urgent situation. Thanks for your help. I reported this to 311 and to our (city) councilor.”

Johnny Chandler of the city of Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development, says “Planning Department inspectors will go to that property and inform the property owner that the tree is blocking the right of way and potentially causing a safety hazard. We ask property owners to fix the right of way impediment within 20 days of receiving the notice from the Planning Department.”

ROUNDABOUT UPDATE: Construction at Rio Grande and Candelaria is set to enter “Phase 1-B,” in which crews will install new storm drainage and sidewalks on the west side of Rio Grande Boulevard, according to a news release.

And that means that through early July:

• North- and southbound Rio Grande traffic will shift to the east, with one lane of traffic in each direction. Northbound Rio Grande traffic will not be able to turn left/west and southbound Rio Grande traffic will not be able to turn right/head west onto Candelaria.

• East- and westbound Candelaria traffic will shift to the south, with one lane in each direction. The far north lane will remain open to allow westbound traffic on Candelaria to turn right and head north on Rio Grande. Other traffic headed west on Candelaria will have to turn left and head south on Rio Grande.

More information is available at

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.