Florida Highway Patrol

On November 23, 1931, under the administration of Governor Doyle E. Carlton, at the request of the Chairman of the State Road Department, Attorney General Cary D. Landis ruled it shall be the duty of the State Road Department to maintain the state roads and enforce the laws enacted to preserve its physical structure. As a result of this ruling, the road department hired 12 weight inspectors who were placed under the supervision of the division engineers.

This was the beginning of state law enforcement in Florida. Uniformed Officers of the SRD drove patrol vehicles with SRD coded license plates from 1931 to 1939.

In 1939, the Florida Legislature created the State Department of Public Safety with two divisions; the Florida Highway Patrol and the Division of State Motor Vehicle Drivers Licenses. The legislation authorized 60 officers to patrol the public highways and to enforce all State laws in effect, or hereinafter enacted, regulating and governing traffic, travel and public safety upon the public highways, and providing penalties for violations thereof, including the operation, regulation and licensing of motor vehicles and drivers thereof, and other vehicles thereon, with full police power to bear arms and to arrest persons violating said laws.

In 1947, the first FHP Patrol station was built in Tallahassee. At the close of 1950, the FHP had 171 Patrolmen on the road. The 1951 Legislature authorized a pay increase to $275 per month and increased the authorized strength to 300 patrolmen; however, the lack of funds kept the Department from employing them.

In late 1952, the Patrol realigned the divisions. Boundaries were changed and divisions became Troops and were designated as A, B, C, D, E and Headquarters Troop.

By 1960, Troop E, headquartered in Miami, had grown so much it was necessary to take Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties and form Troop L headquartered in West Palm Beach. Broward County was added to Troop L in 1981. At the end of 1963, the Patrol had 566 officers. In 1964, the wording 'State Trooper' began to show up on all Florida Highway Patrol cars on the doors and trunk. The word 'State' appeared above the seal and the word 'Trooper' appeared below the seal. Sergeant Tom Joyce, Public Information Officer, brought this information and samples back from the State of Tennessee after a meeting.

In 1983, the Patrol purchased its first Mustang Patrol Cars. The Mustang's handling was one of its greatest assets. Patrol cars of the past were as fast but did not have the high speed handling capabilities of the Mustang. The vehicle responded well to high speed and low speed curves.

Motorcycles were once a staple of the Highway Patrol enforcement program and became extinct for a period of time. They are now back and hopefully, here to stay. The Patrol's new motorcycle section was re-instituted in Miami for traffic enforcement in the latter part of 1985. Their return was brought about largely due to an outbreak of highway robberies occurring on I-95 in Dade County.

The Florida Highway Patrol took delivery of 200 new Chevrolet Camaro patrol cars in 2002. In addition to the installation of the radio system and new low profile Whelen light bars, each trooper issued the high performance patrol car had to complete a five-hour familiarization class on the handling, braking and acceleration of the 310 horsepower vehicle.

The Chevrolet Camaro is powered by a 5.7L engine, which according to tests performed by Michigan State Police, pushes the Chevrolet Camaro to a top speed of 159 miles per hour. The Camaro is also able to achieve a speed of 100 miles per hour from a stopped position in only 13.93 seconds while the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor takes 24.61 seconds.

Florida State Flag

On a white field emblazoned with a red X and the state seal,
Florida's flag represents the land of sunshine, flowers, palm trees,
rivers and lakes. The seal features a brilliant sun, a cabbage
palmetto tree, a steamboat sailing and a Native American Seminole
woman scattering flowers.

SRD-coded license plates were issued annually and utilized the same color and format as regular Florida
passenger vehicle license plates at the time and were issued in pairs. All plates of this series were approximately
5 1/4" x 12" embossed steel and it appears that the SRD code alternated from the prefix position for even
years to the suffix position for odd years:
1931- White over maroon: ### SRD over 1931-FLORIDA
1932- Orange over black: SRD ### over FLORIDA-1932
1933- Black over orange: ### SRD over 1933-FLORIDA
1934- White over black: steel locking strip with 19 and 34
         at each end. FLA embossed in center over SRD ###
1935- Black over yellow: steel locking strip with 19 and 35
         at each end. FLA embossed in center over ### SRD.          Embossed grapefruit motif in top corners.

1936- White over red: FLORIDA-1936 over SRD ###
(Picture courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol)

1937- White over green: 1937-FLORIDA over ### SRD
1938- Yellow over black: 19 FLORIDA 38 over SRD ###
         (the 19 and 38 were to the left and right of the
         top bolt holes respectively)
1939- Red over white: ### SRD over 19 FLORIDA 39
         (the 19 and 39 were to the left and right of the
          lower bolt holes respectively)
 
It is believed by most, that FHP-prefixed license plates were issued to FHP patrol vehicles beginning in 1940.
It is also believed based on the few surviving specimens and old photos, that the FHP plates in the early years
used the OPPOSITE color scheme of regular passenger plates of the day. The plates were still approximately
5 1/4" x 12 embossed steel and issued in pairs.
1940- Black over white:19 FLORIDA 40 over FHP- ##
         (the 19 and 40 were to the left and right of the top
          bolt holes respectively)

                                            
1941- White over red: FHP-## over 19 FLORIDA 41
         (the 19 and 41 were to the left and right of the lower
          bolt holes respectively)

(NOTE: There is a belief that a double-colored background plate was used by the FHP in 1941 with dark blue on the left half and red on the right half and using white embossed characters. There is no physical or photographic evidence (YET!) to support this belief, but is well-worth mentioning)
 

1942- Blue over orange.
This plate was also used into 1943 as validation tabs were issued to
motorists that year to conserve metals for the war effort.

Courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection


1944 Seems to be a year where FHP plates used the same
color scheme as passenger plates. Black over bright yellow.






(Picture courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol)


                                          
1945- Yellow over black: FHP-### over 19 FLORIDA 45           
         (the 19 and 45 were to the left and right of the lower
         bolt holes respectively)
NOTE: It appears as though the FHP returned to OPPOSITE
           color scheme of passenger plates again from
           1945 until 1953.
1946- Dark blue over white: 19 FLORIDA 46 over FHP ###
         (the 19 and 46 were to the left and right of the
          top bolt holes respectively)
1947- Green over white:FHP-### over 19 FLORIDA 47
         (the 19 and 47 were to the left and right of the
          lower bolt holes respectively)

                                                
1948- Black over deep yellow:19 FLORIDA 48 over FHP
           ### (the 19 and 48 were to the left and right
         of the top bolt holes respectively)
1949- White over Red: SUNSHINE STATE over FHP-###
         over 19 FLORIDA 49 (the 19 and 49 were to the left
         and right of the lower bolt holes respectively)
NOTE: 1949 was the first year in which the famous state
          slogan "Sunshine State" was used on all full-size
          Florida license plates

1950- Orange over blue: 19 FLORIDA 50 over FHP ###
         over SUNSHINE STATE (the 19 and 50 were to the
         left and right of the top bolt holes respectively)
         (Picture courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol)

 (Picture courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol)
1951- Yellow over Green: KEEP FLORIDA GREEN over
           FHP-### over 19 FLORIDA 51
         (the 19 and 51 were to the left and right of the
          lower bolt holes respectively)
1952- Blue over orange: 19 FLORIDA 52 over FHP ###
         over SUNSHINE STATE (the 19 and 52 were to the
         left and right of the top bolt holes respectively)

1953- Orange over blue: SUNSHINE STATE over FHP-###
         over 19 FLORIDA 53 (the 19 and 53 were to the left
         and right of the lower bolt holes respectively)


1954-1955 issue- Dark Blue over reflective orange.
NOTE: This reflective background sheeting was being tested by 3M (believed to be the supplier of the material) to
determine its durability in the Florida climate over the
course of 2 years. As can be seen by this specimen,
they had to go back to the drawing board.

Picture courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol
1956- Dark Blue over white. Embossed steel. FLORIDA over
          FHP-### over 19 SUNSHINE STATE 56
        (the 19 and 56 were to the left and right of the lower
         bolt holes respectively)
NOTE: This is the year all license plate issuing jurisdictions
in North America went to the standardized 6" x 12"
dimensions for "car sized" license plates. All non-motorcycle
plates from hereon bear this same dimension.
 
1957-1958-1959. Paper decal that was affixed over the "56"
of the 1956 license plate.
 
1960 was the year where permanent license plates began to be used by the FHP. The plates were supplied by 3M
(which is a practice that still intermittently continues to this day). FHP license plates from 1960 onward vary in
material and composition, sometimes very slightly, so I will attempt to do my best to accurately describe the
variations as they are known to me. As with everything on this website, I rely heavily on the observations of others
who may have a better recollection or knowledge of what they have seen or have, so if there are any errors, please
advise me.

Type 1- 1960-c.1965
Blue over reflective white on galvanized steel with
embossed and painted border. Very similar to plate
# FHP 452 pictured below. The only embossing besides
the border is the number which utilizes the distinctive
Minnesota choppy-looking mitered dies. Same boxy
silkscreened state name above a silkscreened
FHP, but appears larger on the Type 1 plate whereby
the "P" is positioned almost entirely under the "O" of
FLORIDA and followed by a longer parallelogram for the
dash before the numbers. The silkscreen slogan SUNSHINE STATE, as well as the state name in the boxy font appears
the same over all types of this base into the early 1980's.

We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?


Mid-1960's-Early 1970's- Known as "Type 2"-
Same in format, color, and dies as Type 1, however made
of aluminum and shellacked on both sides. All subsequent
issues for the FHP are made of aluminum. Only a couple
of these types remain in captivity, and it is believed that
Type 2 plates were not part of a wide-range change-over
but made in continuance of the Type 1 issue with the cheaper
material. Plate number FHP 880 in this format is "out there"
and Norm's looking for it or any of it's "siblings".

Picture courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol
 

Early 1970's-Circa 1980- Known as "Type 3"- As pictured,
similar to Types 1 and 2, however with a thinner silkscreened
FHP prefix whereby the "P" is positioned almost entirely
under the "L" of FLORIDA and followed by a much shorter
box-style dash before the numbers. This was in anticipation
of 4-digit fleet numbers. This plate also has a small engraved
number 1 in the lower right hand corner. It is believed, that
just like Iowa State Patrol license plates of the day who bore
the same engraved numbers in the lower right corners, that
plate 1 was for the front of the vehicle, plate 2 was for the rear
and plate 3 was a spare retained by the fleet department in the
event of loss or theft. I have yet to see an engraved 3 on any of
these types of plates. NOTE: These distinctive mitered dies are
identical to those used on all Minnesota passenger car
license plates from 1935 to 1954
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

Circa 1980-1987- Known as "Type 4"- As pictured, similar to
its predecessor but with the only difference being the use of a
smaller and softer-looking die for the number which permitted
to accommodate for 4 numbers, and the small engraved
numbers in the bottom right corner were discontinued.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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Circa 1987- Known as "Type 5"- As pictured, similar to its
predecessor but with the only difference being the elimination
of the painted embossed border in favor of a step border and a
more defined die as can be seen on the serif of the number 1
compared to that seen on Type 4.
Plate courtesy of www.specialservicemustang.net
From 1987 until 2003, FHP license plates varied in so many ways as the plates were donated by 3M as a means to
test the durability of all materials in the Florida climate. Therefore, die types, sheeting, gauge of aluminum,
holograms and paints are a hodge-podge over the course of 15 years and practically impossible to tell which came
before the other without the input of those who can attest for their usage within a more specific time-frame.
Dated holograms have only been seen on a couple of examples. Again, I will do my best with the chronology here.
This was also at the time where FHP Troop letter designations were featured on the plates to reflect where FHP were assigned throughout the state.

Troop A - Panama City HQ, Pensacola, and Marianna
Troop B - Lake City HQ, Gainesville, Ocala, Cross City
Troop C - Tampa HQ, Lakeland, Brooksville, Pinellas,                   Land-O-Lakes
Troop D - Orlando HQ, Deland, Cocoa, Kissimmee
Troop E - Miami HQ, Keys
Troop F - Bradenton HQ, Ft Myers, Naples, Arcadia
Troop G - Jacksonville HQ, St Augustine, Palatka
Troop H - Tallahassee HQ & GHQ, Perry, Quincy,                   Madison
Troop I- (Obsolete) Weight Section-Orlando
Troop K - FL Turnpike
Troop L - Lantana HQ, Ft Pierce, Davie
Troop M- (Obsolete) Motor Vehicle Inspection
Troop Q - Statewide Investigations
 

1987-1997 issue using Alaska dies


Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein


1987-1998 issue using unknown die type and "compacted" style with no space between FHP prefix and fleet number. Embossed numerals in very dark blue

Courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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FHP 50th Anniversary issue. Issued November 15th 1989
and affixed to the REAR of FHP patrol cars through to
December 31 1989. Plates were for the most part retained by
the assigned FHP officer and kept as souvenirs. It has been
stated that some plate numbers were badge numbers, ID
numbers, car numbers and radio numbers, but the
general consensus from Troopers who recall this era is that
they were issued random numbers. Those who cared more
sought-out the better numbers.


FHP 50th Anniversary issue "stock" plate. Unknown as to the actual usage, but there has been speculation that these could have been used on pool vehicles not assigned to a particular badge or radio number.
(Looking for confirmation/clarification on this)
What I do know is that they seem to be a bit more
rare to find than the numbered plates.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

Circa 1990 issue-
Step border and use of thin and mitered Florida-style dies.


Circa 1995-2000 issue-
"Deep Dish" embossed aluminum with large thick dies.
For fleet numbers under 1000

Circa 1995-2000 issue.
Embossed aluminum with large dies for fleet
numbers above 1000
Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein
 


1999-2003 issue. All silkscreened. Up to 5 circular holograms with "99" run vertically down the center sheeting of the plate.

2003-Current issue.
Features embossed Alaska dies. Remainder of plate is
silkscreened including FHP patch logo and state silhouette
in light green.

2006-Current issue.
Same as previous issue, but embossing has been discontinued
in favor of fully screened computer-generated numerals.
FHP FRONT PLATES
From the beginning and up until 1953, FHP plates were issued in matched pairs to be run front and rear on the
vehicles. From 1953 until at least 1970, no recognized front plates were used on FHP vehicles. In 1970, a state
safety campaign titled ARRIVE ALIVE went into full-swing that dealt with matters of proper highway speed,
road manners and use of seat-belts where available. The FHP promoted this campaign to reduce motoring-related
deaths and injuries by affixing ARRIVE ALIVE license plates to the front of their vehicles.

1970/71 FHP front plate to promote Arrive Alive
road safety campaign

We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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1972 FHP front plate to promote Arrive Alive
road safety campaign
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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1973/80 FHP front plate to promote Arrive Alive
road safety campaign

Picture courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol

1975 issue FHP front plate to promote Arrive Alive
road safety campaign
still in use today!
 

1982/early 90's FHP front plate to promote Arrive Alive
road safety campaign

Click on the picture for a larger image

Early 1980's optional front plate.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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Circa 1999 "ARREST DRUNK DRIVING" Campaign plate
 


Courtesy of the Robert Cooper Collection
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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2001-2005 front plate.
Made of vinyl and with long mounting slots

Courtesy of the Bob Bruce Collection

2005-Current.
Made of screened aluminum with step border.


Circa 2000 Seatbelt campaign plate.
Screened vinyl

Courtesy of the Bob Bruce Collection
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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Circa 1970's - FHP Auxiliary booster plate,
Flat-painted on steel plate with embossed border
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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FHP MOTORCYCLE LICENSE PLATES
The earliest known surviving FHP motorcycle license plate dates back to 1942, but it may be safe to assume that
FHP plates were issued to patrol motorcycles since the beginning and even perhaps during the State Road
Department days. If the assumption is to be correct based on color schemes and formats in the state at that time
and the fact that for most of the time, FHP plates were the painted in OPPOSITE colors of the standard used by
civilian motorcycles at the time, this is how it should have played out. It is also an assumption that FHP issued
motorcycle plates annually. All plates in horizontal format and embossed steel.
The A prefix indicates large motorcycle over 5 HP

1939- White over red- 8" x 3" Clipped-cornered embossed
         border- A 3 FLA 9 over FHP ##
1940- Black over white- 8" x 3" Clipped-cornered embossed
         border- A 4 FLA 0 over FHP ##
1941- White over red- 8" x 3" Clipped-cornered embossed
         border- A 4 FLA 1 over FHP ##
1942- Blue over orange- 8" x 3" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 4 FLA 2 over FHP ##
1943 tab on 42 base

 

1944- Black over yellow- 8" x 3" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 4 FLA 4 over FHP ##
 

1945- Yellow over black- 8" x 3" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 4 FLA 5 over FHP ##
(Picture courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol)
1946- Dark blue over white- 8" x 3" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 4 FLA 6 over FHP ##
1947- Green over white- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 4 FLA 7 over FHP ##
1948- Black over yellow-?8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 4 FLA 8 over FHP ##
1949- White over red- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 4 FLA 9 over FHP ##
1950- Orange over blue- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 5 FLA 0 over FHP ##
1951- Yellow over green- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 5 FLA 1 over FHP ##
1952- Blue over orange- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 5 FLA 2 over FHP ##
1953- Orange over blue- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 5 FLA 3 over FHP ##
1954- Blue over orange- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 5 FLA 4 over FHP ##
1955- Orange over blue-8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 5 FLA 5 over FHP ##
1956- Blue over white- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 5 FLA 6 over FHP ##
1957- White over blue- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 5 FLA 7 over FHP ##
1958- Dark green over white- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 5 FLA 8 over FHP ##
1959- White over dark green- 8" x 4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 5 FLA 9 over FHP ##
1960- Blue over yellow- 9 x 3 1/4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 6 FLA 0 over FHP ##
1961- Yellow over blue- 9 x 3 1/4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 6 FLA 1 over FHP ##
1962- White over blue- 9 x 3 1/4" Clipped-cornered
         embossed border- A 6 FLA 2 over FHP ##
It is believed that stock motorcycle plates were used by FHP from the mid-1960's until the 1980's when
the permanent plates were issued as the one pictured below which also allowed for four numerals
and Troop designation.

Motorcycle Plate ~ 1980-2003
Troop letter sticker would be
affixed to the right of "TROOP"

We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?
2003 to Current
Around the time that the FHP cruisers went to the patch
graphic plate, the Motors were replated with motorcycle sized
version. We are seeking any photographical evidence!
 

IACP International Association of Chiefs of Police
conference souvenir plate- October 2005

Courtesy- Neil Bartfeld Collection


2005 National Troopers Coalition issue.
Aluminum with step border. Made by 3M.