Motor and Other Vehicles

Registration of Vehicles

SECTION 31-3-53

§ 31-3-53. Veterans' plates.

(a) The registrar of motor vehicles shall issue for any motor vehicle eligible for registration as an automobile, or for any motorcycle eligible for registration as a motorcycle, or for a commercial vehicle having a gross weight of twelve thousand pounds (12,000 lbs.) or less, plates designated as "Veteran," "Purple Heart," and "Ex-POW" upon application on proper forms furnished by the administrator of the division of motor vehicles to veterans.

(b) The special plate designated "Veteran" shall be designed as follows:

(1) Letters and numbers shall be blue in a white background with the words "Rhode Island" clearly visible at the top center of the plate and the word "Veteran" visible at the bottom center of the plate.

(2) The background will be a red, white, and blue waving American Flag.

(3) On the top right corner will be a decal with the military branch of the service in which the Veteran served (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines).

(4) For war veterans, a white decal with blue letters with the words "War Veteran" placed under the military branch decal on the right side of the plate above the validation sticker.

(c) The applicant shall not be required to pay a service charge or a transfer charge for each plate.

(d) The applicant shall be entitled to a plate for each vehicle owned by the applicant.

(e) The owner of a motor vehicle eligible for registration as a commercial vehicle and having a gross weight of twelve thousand pounds (12,000 lbs.) or less who is issued veteran plates shall continue to pay the appropriate commercial registration fee for those plates. The owner of a motor vehicle eligible for registration as a commercial vehicle having a gross weight of six thousand three hundred pounds (6,300 lbs.), but not more than twelve thousand pounds (12,000 lbs.), shall sign an affidavit at the time of application for said plates stating that the vehicle is to be used for personal use only.

(f)(1) For the purposes of this section, a "veteran" shall be defined as any person who has served on active duty in the armed forces of the United States. The term "veteran" shall also include members of the National Guard and Reserves: (i) Called to active duty authorized by the President of the United States or the Secretary of Defense; or (ii) Who have twenty (20) years of service with a letter and record of separation of service.

(2) For the purposes of this section, "War Veteran" shall be defined as any veteran of any conflict or undeclared war who has earned a campaign ribbon or expeditionary medal for service in either a declared or undeclared war as noted on the war veteran's DD-214. Upon the death of the holder of any veteran plates, the plates shall be transferred to the surviving spouse for the spouse's lifetime until he or she remarries.

(g) The "veteran" or "war veteran" described in subdivisions (f)(1)(i) or (ii) and (f)(2) must have been honorably discharged from the armed forces of this nation in order to receive plates pursuant to this section and, for purposes of this section, a medical discharge or a general discharge shall be deemed an honorable discharge.

(h) Veterans who have served in multiple conflicts are entitled to be issued veterans' plates equal to the number of conflicts he or she served in; provided, the plates are limited to the number of vehicles owned by the veteran.

(i) A person shall be eligible for a veterans' plate if his or her deceased spouse was eligible for a veterans' plate, notwithstanding the fact that the eligible, deceased spouse died prior to the enactment of this section in 1988.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1988, ch. 458, § 1; P.L. 1989, ch. 354, § 1; P.L. 1990, ch. 186, § 1; P.L. 1990, ch. 402, § 1; P.L. 1990, ch. 426, § 1; P.L. 1990, ch. 454, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 30, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 156, § 2; P.L. 1992, ch. 334, § 1; P.L. 1993, ch. 411, § 1; P.L. 1995, ch. 305, § 1; P.L. 1997, ch. 126, § 1; P.L. 2000, ch. 323, § 1; P.L. 2000, ch. 460, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 428, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 212, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 343, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 642, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 59, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 68, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 10, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 11, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 152, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 510, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 142, art. 9, § 2.)