The Andrew Turnbull Network

License Plate Gallery

West Virginia Non-Passenger Plates, 1976-1995

In addition to passenger plates, a wide variety of plates in non-passenger classifications were made on the map base as well. Most of these used serial formats consisting of a code letter followed by between four and six digits (with the letter and first digit stacked as need be) and expired on July 1st, some of which are shown below:

"B" = Truck

West Virginia license plate B/2-77812
West Virginia license plate B/5-2841

The most common non-passenger class by far, and also subject to the most interesting circumstances.

Originally (and at the time of the 1976 base's initial issuance), these plates were issued to all trucks not falling into other classes. In 1978, however, light trucks for noncommercial use were brought into the staggered registration system and reissued passenger car plates. This partially accounts for the large number of "B" truck plates with 1978 stickers in collectors' hands, and also for why the serial progression in the current "B" truck series has been much slower: Serials were well into the B/300-000s on the map base by the end of the 1970s, while serials in the 1996 series are still in the B/100-000s twelve years on. "B" plates were also the only non-passenger class to have a manufacturing run by Polyvend, which in a testament to their quality control stamped all the plates with a dash in the wrong place.

(Come to think of it, has anyone seen a Polyvend-die 1976 truck plate with a sticker beyond 1978? Perhaps they reissued plates to everyone!)

The plate at right is a bit of a basket case in itself: It was presumably made with the rest of the B/500-000 series in the late '80s; however, it has only five digits in the serial, and the number would appear to conflict with the original (unstacked) five-digit "B" plate run on this base from the 1970s. (I've seen "R" and "T" plates in this odd format, too.)

Variation Confirmed serial block range
Polyvend dies and blue border Through B/2-77xxx
WV dies and blue border B/3-8xxx to B/4 16-xxx
WV dies and yellow border B/4 54-xxx to B/5 40-xxx

"C" = Commercial trailer

Heavy, semi-articulated trailers generally fall into this category. West Virginia's "Permanent Trailer" plate is the modern equivalent of this.

Variation Confirmed serial block range
WV dies and blue border Through C28-xxx
WV dies and yellow border C63-xxx to C92-xxx

"D" = Dealer

West Virginia license plate D/3 408

Dealer plates follow a distinctive numbering system, whereby an individual dealer is assigned a single number and allocated multiple plates indicated by smaller digits. On that note, the example above was plate number 3 from dealer number 408. Dealer plates appear to have been issued on the multi-year map base through 1981. Non-graphic, annual plates resumed in 1982 (presumably to curb the potential for abuse) and continue to be issued today.

The "D" class per se is reserved for new-car dealers. Other letters in addition to the "D" indicate other types: "DUC" is used car dealer and "DTR" is trailer dealer, for example.

"DV" = Disabled Veteran

West Virginia license plate DV-1789

Although often considered a special-issue type nowadays, disabled veteran plates predate special-issue graphics in West Virginia and often provide special parking privileges. On that note, these plates are arguably the most distinctive of the classes issued on the map base, distinguished by the bright red-painted serial. (Low numbers, however, feature a more conventional blue-painted serial.) The "Disabled Veteran" designation has been applied over the slogan by means of a decal.

Newer West Virginia Disabled Veteran plate The "July 2005" sticker was issued in 1994 as a long-term validation. As far as I know, this is the only type of map plate still officially valid today. Newer plates use a different graphic base similar to that of "regular" Veteran plates, with the numbering picking up where it left off on this issue.

"E" = Exempt truck

"Exempt" in this case means exemption from the operating jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.

"G" = Motorcycle

West Virginia license plate G22816

Not a map base per se, but contemporaneous. Motorcycles continued to be issued plates annually through 1990, at which point this yellow-on-blue multi-year plate was issued for validation with stickers. This non-graphic base remained in use until the expiration of the July 1997 sticker, at which point a graphic series (derivative in design from the current passenger issue) came into use.

"H" = Bus

Limousines also fell into this category. The "H" presumably stands for "hire." They are rare, in part because in practice most buses received city- or state-owned or even passenger plates.

"J" = Taxi

The "J" presumably stands for "jitney," a somewhat archaic term. Like "H" bus plates, these tend to be very rare.

"K" = Truck; leased or for hire

West Virginia license plate K12-345
West Virginia license plate K40-508

Plates like these were issued to trucks "for hire;" leased, or used to deliver goods and services. These plates often appeared with "Apportioned" decals following West Virginia's entrance into the International Registration Plan in 1986, and could often be found on the front of big rigs (thus explaining the insect residue on the 1995 plate above). Incidentally, this classification (along with "L" below) was eliminated at the tail end of the '90s; heavy trucks nowadays receive "B" plates whether or not they are "for hire."

Variation Confirmed serial block range
WV dies and blue border Through K14-xxx
WV dies and yellow border K24-xxx through K40-xxx

"L" = Trailer; leased or for hire

West Virginia license plate L11-555
West Virginia license plate L22-516

Much the same story as above; except for trailers. Following the folding of the "for hire" vehicle classes circa 1999/2000 shortly after the map base was replaced, semi-trailers receive C-prefixed "Permanent Trailer" plates.

Variation Confirmed serial block range
WV dies and blue border Through L11-xxx
WV dies and yellow border L22-xxx

"R" = Recreational trailer

West Virginia license plate R30-409
West Virginia license plate R/1 81-046

Camping and house trailers fall into this category.

Variation Confirmed serial block range
WV dies and blue border Through R30-xxx
WV dies and yellow border R/1-7xxx to R/1 81-xxx

"S" = Special mobile equipment

One of the more specialized vehicle classes, incorporating privately-owned road graters and other strange machinery; although these plates are more common than one might expect. Incidentally, the current prefix letter on the books for mobile equipment is "M."

"T" = Light trailer

West Virginia license plate T89-111
West Virginia license plate T/1 92-811

Boat and utility trailers fall into this category.

Variation Confirmed serial block range
WV dies and blue border Through T47-xxx
WV dies and yellow border T89-xxx to T/2 13-xxx


West Virginia license plate 15177

It's a little unclear when handicapped plates were first issued in West Virginia, but it was definitely during the era of the blue-bordered map base (1976-81). Numbers were well into the 20000 range by the early '90s. The above plate shows the uncommon blue "96" sticker, which was used on personalized, handicapped, amateur radio, and special-issue plates only during a year that regular passenger and non-passenger plates experienced a general reissue.

Variation Confirmed serial block range
WV dies and blue border Through 11xxx
WV dies and yellow border 14xxx through 25xxx

[Home] The Network [Back] License Plates [Back] WV "Map" Bases [Forward] West Virginia Run

Valid XHTML 1.0! ©2006-08 Andrew Turnbull.
Last update June 16, 2008.