Resident wants a license to make his hometown of Reston stand out on the road

By Megan Buerger
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 11, 2010

In 2005, Dan McGuire's four-year campaign for a special license plate for University of Maryland alumni finally ended in success. Now, he is spearheading a similar mission, this time for his hometown of Reston.

"The people on the board of the Reston Citizens Association believe they live in a unique community, and this would be a unique effort," said McGuire, who has lived in Reston since 1972 and is vice president of the group. "There are schools and aircraft and animals, but I don't believe there are any towns that have their own license plates."

McGuire is correct, technically.

According to Melanie Stokes, public relations manager at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, three cities in Virginia have special plates - Chesapeake, Fairfax and Virginia Beach - as well as four areas - Northern Neck, Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and the Eastern Shore.

But no towns.

The campaign, started by the citizens association three years ago, has seen gradual success. McGuire has collected 150 of the 350 signatures he will need to get the plates processed. Helping his cause is the fact that the plates are not revenue-sharing, meaning they only cost $10 annually. Revenue-sharing plates cost $25 annually, with the extra $15 going to the city or area at hand.

McGuire said signatures are his biggest obstacle.

"Three hundred and fifty people is a good chunk for a town like Reston," said McGuire, who admits he has not been as aggressive in promoting the plates as he would like. Reston's population is just less than 60,000.

Signatures were the chief hurdle with the Terrapin plate, as well. Despite advertisements in the school newspaper and alumni newsletter, Maryland graduates were not biting.

"After about three years, the university was ready to cancel us because we just could not shake the tree," he said. "There were about 15,000 graduates of U-Md. that live in Northern Virginia, so we knew we had the numbers, but we couldn't get the commitments."

McGuire said one of the problems with collecting the signatures was that applicants had to provide a vehicle identification number, something people typically didn't have readily available.

"It was a tremendous obstacle to overcome," he said.


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