State of Florida
T.J. Juskiewicz, Executive Director of Bike Florida and the Share the Road Campaign, Florida
Florida has one of the highest bicycle injury and fatality rates in the nation. To help reduce the number of bicycle crashes, an ongoing dedicated funding source was needed to help make Florida a safer place to cycle. There had been a variety of short-term state and federal grants and appropriations, but securing sustained financial support was imperative to support quality bicycle safety programs.
Florida is one of the many states that offer motorists an opportunity to purchase a specialty license plate instead of the standard state license plates for their motor vehicle. Each specialty plate in Florida serves as a funding mechanism for a nonprofit organization in the state. The specialty plates cost the consumer an additional fee that is collected by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The fees are collected every year that the individual possesses the specialty plate and forwarded to the nonprofit organization that sponsors the plate.
Each state has different laws and procedures regarding the specialty license plates and some states do not have any specialty plates for their citizens. Contact your Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for more information on specialty license plates in your state (see appendix A for information on Florida's statute ).
Florida’s requirement began with an official application to the Division of Motor Vehicles requesting the establishment of a new specialty license plate. Next, a survey sample of 15,000 registered vehicle owners or registrants stating their intention to purchase the proposed specialty license plate was completed. An application fee of $60,000 was then submitted to defray the department’s cost to review the application and develop the specialty license plate. The last step in the application process was to submit a marketing strategy outlining short-term and long-term marketing plans for the proposed specialty license plate (see appendix B).
Once the application requirements have been met, Florida law requires that legislation be submitted to the House and Senate Transportation Committees. The proposed legislation would detail the cost of the proposed plates, the purpose in creating the proposed plate and how the funds would be spent (see appendix C).
Upon approval by the legislature, the organization must submit the proposed art design for the specialty license plate. Completion of the design, development, production and distribution of each new specialty license plate shall occur within one year after the legislature’s approval of the plate (see appendix D).
The process in Florida to create the “Share the Road” specialty license plates began in 1997. A few bicycle advocates were determined to create a new specialty tag in Florida to bring attention to the safe sharing of the Florida roadways following the tragic death of Margaret Raynal. Raynal and a colleague were killed in 1996 while cycling on a rural road in north Florida. Margaret was an avid cyclist and advocate who worked at the Florida Bicycle and Traffic Safety Education Program at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Linda Crider and Jimmy Carnes of Gainesville and Henry Lawrence of Panama City were some of the key individuals involved in the creation of the project. They enlisted the support of the Florida Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to collect signatures and raise the funds required to create the “Share the Road” specialty license plate. Various bicycle clubs and advocacy groups throughout the state also pitched in by collecting the needed signatures. After two years the required signatures were gathered and the funds were in place to proceed.
The “Share the Road” license plate legislation in Florida was filed and sponsored by Representative Bob Casey (House Bill 601, 1999 Legislative Session) from Gainesville and Senator Donald Sullivan (Senate Bill 280, 1999 Legislative Session) from St. Petersburg. During the 1999 legislative session, both the House (113 to 4) and Senate (38 to 1) approved the “Share the Road” license plate. On June 8, 1999, the governor signed the “Share the Road” specialty license plate bill into law (see appendix E).
During the 1999 legislative session, Senate Bill 1566, Chapter 99-251 provided for the Florida Sports Foundation to absorb many duties currently assigned to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Amateur Sports.
The bill originally distributed the annual user fees of the license plates to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Amateur Sports. A portion was to be used for marketing and promotion of the “Share the Road” concept and license plate. The remaining funds were to be divided equally between Bike Florida, Inc. and the Florida Bicycle Association, Inc. Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association, both non-profit organizations founded to promote safe bicycling, had mutually agreed, before passage of the bill, that Bike Florida would administer the marketing and promotion of the specialty license plate and after expenses, split the proceeds. Representative Casey filed a bill to distribute funds directly from the “Share the Road” specialty tags to Bike Florida, Inc., instead of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. After several changes, House Bill 571 and Senate Bill 768 were presented and passed. In July, the Governor signed the bill making it law.
Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is the main entity with which Bike Florida works regarding the “Share the Road” license plates. The DHSMV receives updates on tags sold and funds collected from county tax collectors and tags sold directly through the state office. The DHSMV transfers funds collected through these agencies and mails a paper check to the Bike Florida office. The DHSMV also sends a monthly report of tag funds collected by each county and the state office. The funds typically are distributed by the DHSMV many months after they are collected.
Once Bike Florida receives the funds from DHSMV, Bike Florida calculates 25 percent of each check and deposits that amount into the Share the Road Promotion Account. The remainder is split equally between Bike Florida and the Florida Bicycle Association. The funds are distributed to the Florida Bicycle Association on a quarterly basis.
In 2000, the “Share the Road” specialty license plates generated $37,245 in revenue. In 2001, $75,511 was generated. It is projected that well over $100,000 in revenue will be produced in 2002.
The “Share the Road” license plates project has exceeded expectations to date. The goal was to secure an on-going funding mechanism to promote bicycle safety in Florida, which was accomplished. The revenues generated should eclipse the $100,000 mark for years to come, which will be extremely beneficial to bicycle safety programs throughout Florida.
T. J. Juskiewicz
Former Executive Director
Bike Florida, Inc.
P.O. Box 621626
Oviedo, FL 32762-1626
Section 320.08053, Florida Statutes outlines the requirements an organization must meet to request that a new specialty license plate be created. Section 320.08056, Florida Statutes provides the responsibilities of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in developing and issuing specialty license plates when legislation authorizes a new specialty license plate to be established.
Initial contact must be made with the Division of Motor Vehicles before an organization can begin the process.
Legislation must be enacted to establish a new specialty license plate design. Proposals for specialty license plates may be considered by the legislature only upon compliance with the following conditions and requirements. An organization that seeks to establish a new specialty license plate, for which an annual use fee is to be charged, must submit to the department:
When a proposal has been submitted, the department will notify the House and Senate about whether the application requirements have been met. When the proposed legislation is submitted to the House and Senate Transportation Committees, a copy will be provided to the applicant of the proposed plate. The proposed legislation will be generic to be consistent with all other existing specialty license plates and will:
When the new specialty license plate is approved by the legislature, the organization must submit the proposed art design for the specialty license plate to the department within 60 days.
The Division of Motor Vehicles is responsible for coordinating the design and development of the specialty license plate. Completion of the design, development, production and distribution of each new specialty license plate shall occur within one year after the legislature’s approval of the specialty license plate.
Specialty license plates must bear the design required by law for the appropriate specialty license plate and the design and colors must be approved by the department. In addition, the produced specialty license plates may bear the imprint of numerals from 1 to 999, inclusive, capital letters “A” through “Z” or a combination thereof. The department shall determine the maximum number of characters including both numbers and letters. All specialty license plates must be of the same material and size as standard license plates.
The organization that requested the specialty license plate may not redesign the specialty license plate before the end of the fifth year, unless the inventory of those plates has been depleted. However, the organization may purchase the remaining inventory of the specialty license plates from the department at cost.
The department must discontinue the issuance of an approved specialty license plate if:
In addition to the plate design requirements previously mentioned, the following specifications would apply to the design based upon its location on the actual license plate.
Title XXIII – Motor Vehicles
Chapter 320 – Motor Vehicle Licenses
Statute 320.08058 – Specialty License Plates
(31) SHARE THE ROAD LICENSE PLATES
(a) The department shall develop a Share the Road license plate as provided in this section. The word “Florida” must appear at the top of the plate, and the words “Share the Road” must appear at the bottom of the plate.
(b) The annual use fees shall be distributed to Bike Florida, Inc., up to 25 percent of which shall be used for marketing and promotion of the “Share the Road” concept and license plate. The remaining funds shall be divided equally between Bike Florida, Inc., and the Florida Bicycle Association, Inc., to be used for: