A few hours after the dawn's early light Monday, the state Motor Vehicle Administration will begin issuing a new Maryland license plate — replacing the generic black-and-white version with a design commemorating the War of 1812 and the defense of Fort McHenry.
The plate, which will become the standard issue for newly registered cars, will be introduced today at the MVA's 100th anniversary celebration at its Glen Burnie headquarters.
It depicts the Fort McHenry ramparts and bombs bursting in air during the 1814 struggle that inspired Marylander Francis Scott Key to pen an ode — later set to music — he called the "Star-Spangled Banner." The new design will remain the standard-issue plate until June 2015.
Vehicle owners who now have standard-design tags will be able to keep them. Those who want to switch to the new tags when renewing registrations can do so for a $20 fee.
Starting Monday, newly purchased vehicles will be issued the War of 1812 plates without a fee, said MVA spokesman Buel Young. The design will be used for trucks, motorcycles and multipurpose vehicles as well as passenger cars.
The event from noon to 4 p.m. today marks the centennial of the founding of the Office of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, predecessor of the MVA, in 1910. As part of the celebration, the agency will hold a display today of one car from each of the past 100 model years as well as an exhibition of historic motorcycles.
More information on the new plates can be found at http://www.mva.maryland.gov/.