The special inaugural license plate, which sprouts on the bumpers of cars hereabouts every four years to commemorate presidential inaugurations, isn't just for presidents anymore: Sets are being sold to mark the beginning of Marion Barry's second term as mayor.
The D.C. Department of Transportation has stamped out 1,000 sets of the special red, white and blue tags in honor of the mayor's festivities and is set to put them on sale today for $10 a set.
It is the first time special license plates have been issued to honor a D.C. government inaugural celebration.
Numbered from 0001 to 1000--Barry will pay his $10 to get one with "MAYOR" on it--the plates will be good until March 31, the annual renewal date for tags in the city.
"It's just something festive," said transportation director Thomas Downs, who said the idea came up during a routine review of inaugural events.
The tags depict the District of Columbia flag, with the city's new tourist slogan "A Capital City" printed across the top and "Inaugural 1983" across the bottom. The tag sets cost about $5 each to make. Proceeds from the sale are expected to go to an as yet unspecified charitable organization, according to city officials, rather than to help pay for inaugural costs.
Downs said the tags will be sold first to Barry, City Council Chairman-Elect David A. Clarke and the six other council members who also are being sworn in on Monday.
Those not snapped up by the officials will be sold to the public begining at noon today at inaugural headquarters at the Washington Hilton Hotel and the Washington Convention Center.
Although the presidential inaugural tags are sold to any buyer from any state, the regulation, 6-by-12-inch size D.C. tags will be legal only on vehicles currently registered in the District, Downs said.
City residents who want to purchase the tags will have to show a valid car registration. Other persons can purchase the tags but cannot legally use them on any vehicle, Downs said. "If they're caught, they'll be using illegal tags," he said.
The numbered inaugural tags also will be cross-checked with the drivers regular tags to make sure any tickets written against them are recorded in the city's computers.
Downs, whose department has been criticized for allegedly not booting low-numbered license tags, said the inaugural tags will be ticketed and, if necessary, booted.
Tickets against the inaugural tags--like other tickets written through the year--must be paid before an owner can renew his registration, Downs said.
Downs also warned that anyone who puts the inaugural tag on a car should "lock up the regular tags. They are still legally responsible for them and any tickets written against them."