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"Ask a Trooper" discusses firefighter license plates

by Tim Anderson

“ASK A TROOPER” by Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol


Question: I am a volunteer firefighter for an area fire department and getting close to retiring.  Anyway, I have fire plates on my vehicles and was wondering what the law states as a retired fire fighter. Do I need to relinquish my plates or can I have fire plates forever. I thought I once heard that after retiring you must turn them in for regular plates. I know of many retired fire fighters in my area still have them and was wondering if they need to be relinquished and whose responsibility is it to see that they do it. Thanks for the answer.


Answer:  This is what Minnesota State Statute says. ““Special plates issued under this subdivision may only be used during the period that the owner of the motor vehicle is a member of a fire department as specified in this subdivision. When the individual to whom the special plates were issued is no longer a member of a fire department or when the motor vehicle ownership is transferred, the owner shall remove the special plates from the motor vehicle. If the commissioner receives written notification that an individual is no longer qualified for these special plates, the commissioner shall invalidate the plates and notify the individual of this action. The individual may retain the plate only upon demonstrating compliance with the qualifications of this subdivision. Upon removal or invalidation of the special plates, or special motorcycle plate, either the owner or purchaser of the motor vehicle shall obtain regular plates or a regular motorcycle plate for the proper registration classification for the motor vehicle.”


So once you are retired or no longer an active fire fighter, you would need to obtain regular license plates for your vehicle.  If you are in compliance I understand you can keep your license plates for personal/novelty purposes (hanging on your house/garage wall, etc.) but overall you will need regular license plates on your vehicle.  Ultimately it is the owner’s responsibility to do this.  I believe some of the local fire chiefs have notified the commissioner that this person is now retired or no longer with the department.  I also know that we (State Patrol) have even received some tips from the public for people that were not in compliance with this.


If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205.  (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at,jesse.grabow@state.mn.us)