In 1919 Alabama State Law Enforcement Agents were appointed by the state legislature, but it is not certain if their mandate extended to traffic law enforcement.
In 1927, the Alabama State Highway Commission appointed Deputy Police Officers to conduct enforcement on Alabama's highways, but could only address and enforce matters of traffic law. Inspectors, known as Alabama Highway Officers acting under the authority of the Alabama Public Service Commission were appointed in 1931.
The Alabama Highway Patrol was formed in 1935, comprised primarily of the Alabama Highway Officers from the PSC and full police powers were granted. The Alabama Highway Patrol came under the umbrella of the Alabama Department of Public Safety in 1939, and in 1963 the Patrol was renamed the Alabama State Troopers.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety of today comprises of six divisions: Administration, Bureau of Investigation, Driver Licensing, Highway Patrol, Protective Services and Service.
Alabama DPS/ Highway Patrol License Plates
Although Alabama State Vehicle license plates have been issued as early as 1929, it was in 1942 that the earliest record of any kind of distinctive license plate usage for the Alabama Highway Patrol began. S-prefixed State Vehicle plates were used on Alabama DPS/Highway Patrol vehicles from 1942 until the 1990's issue. These S plates followed the same issuance colors and formats as regular Alabama passenger plates for each year of issuance. Most of the S plates issued to Alabama DPS/Highway Patrol vehicles were low-numbered (up to 3 numbers). Up until 1970, Alabama S plates were issued for both front and back of the vehicle. A variety of different "booster" plates have been used on the front of Alabama State Trooper vehicles since 1970.
- 1951 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 5 1/4" x 13 1/2". Black over yellow. State Vehicle issue with 3 digit number.
- 1953 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 5 1/4" x 13 1/2". Blue over cream. State Vehicle issue with 3 digit number.
(Courtesy Jim Aitken)
- 1954 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 5 1/4" x 13 1/2". White over blue. State Vehicle issue with 3 digit number.
- 1959 issue- Embossed Steel. 6" x 12". Blue over white. State Vehicle issue with 3 digit number
(Picture courtesy of the Alabama DPS)
- 1962 issue- Embossed steel. White over green. State Vehicle issue with 3 digit number
- 1965 visual speed indicator
courtesy to the motoring public
- 1966 issue-Embossed steel. Reflective white over black. State Vehicle issue with 3 digit number
- 1967 issue-Embossed steel. Yellow-orange over blue.
State vehicle issue with 3 digit number.
- 1970 issue-Embossed steel. Blue over refective white. State Vehicle issue with 3 digit number
- 1971 issue-Embossed steel. Black over reflective yellow. State Vehicle issue with two to three digit number
- 1971 Javelin AMX
- Larger view of this photo available in Gallery below
- 1973 issue. Embossed steel. Red over reflective white. State Vehicle issue with three digit number
In 1975, the Alabama Department of Public Safety were issued for the first time, distinct license plates solely for DPS usage. The embossed steel plates were in the Alabama Trooper colors of dark blue over grey. The state slogan HEART OF DIXIE was embossed between the two upper mounting holes. The prefix DPS was followed by a dash and a number from 1 to the 300's. The state name was embossed between the two bottom mounting holes, and an embossed 75 was placed in the bottom right corner of the plate on the earliest issues. It was realized soon after that an expiry year was not necessary for a tax exempt plate such as this, so the 75 was dropped and replaced with an embossed heart design instead. The earlier versions used a flatter battleship grey background with dark blue paint for the embossed features, and the later versions utilized a softer grey background and a more medium shade of blue. The dash separator was also dropped on the later issues. These plates were used on marked state trooper patrol vehicles until the early 1980's when a distinctive graphic plate was introduced.
- Circa 1975 issue. Embossed steel. Dark blue over flat grey. Department of Public Safety issue. Parallelogram dash separator between letters and numerals
- Launch of the first Alabama DPS license plate-1975
- Circa 1979/1980 issue. Embossed steel. Medium blue over flat grey. Department of Public Safety issue.
No dash separator
In approximately 1980, Alabama State Troopers were issued attractive graphic license plates for their patrol vehicles. They were made of galvanized steel and the only embossing on them were the registration characters and the border which were painted blue. The background of the plate was reflective white and on the left side of the plate featured a silkscreened state coat-of-arms in blue and red, flanked on the top with the word STATE and below with TROOPER. The embossed assignment characters followed with an S prefix followed by a dash and one to three numbers. The state name was silkscreened in blue at the top center of the plate and OFFICIAL screened the same way along the bottom center. A blue and red HEART OF DIXIE motif was placed above the lower right mounting hole. It was stated that these plates were issued in pairs with most troopers opting to only run the rear plate and keep the front one as a souvenir. For reasons so far unknown, these popular plates were no longer issued after 1983 as they were replaced by standard state vehicle license plates again.
- Circa 1980/1982 issue. Embossed galvanized steel. First full-graphic issue. Blue and red over reflective white. Screened emblem with STATE TROOPER flanking top and bottom of emblem. Still using State Vehicle numbering system.
- Group of items from career of Retired Alabama DPS Sergeant Jim Collins. Sgt Collins was a multiple National Pistol Match champion back in the late 1970's. He was also a member of Governor George Wallace's security team known as the "Governor's Twenty" which was formed after the attempted assassination of the governor in 1972.
- 1983-1990's issue- Embossed steel. Dark blue over reflective white. Generic state vehicle plate but with numbers commencing in the 14000 bloc.
(Courtesy of Robert Ward)
- (Courtesy of Robert Ward)
An exact year is not certain, but it is believed to be in the mid 1990's that Alabama State Troopers had another chance to run distinctive graphic license plates on their patrol vehicles. This was welcomed news to replace the generic state vehicle plates they had to run on their patrol vehicles for approximately 10 years hence. The new plates were embossed steel and have a reflective white background. In the top left corner of the plate is a silkscreened navy blue heart motif with HEART OF DIXIE inside the design in white. The state name is silkscreened in dark blue between the upper mounting holes. The center of the plate has the embossed prefix ST for State Trooper. A reflective white decal is affixed in the center of the plate with the dark blue door decal design. The embossed assignment number follows with a number up to four digits. The words STATE TROOPER are embossed between the lower mounting holes. All the embossed characters are painted in blue. As the years have progressed, the shade of blue used on the embossed characters have varied from medium blue to indigo. An earlier version of this plate has been seen in a photo of an Alabama DPS highway patrol car decked-out with experimental markings (See Gallery). The plate shows embossed characters painted in red. It is not known if the red version was a general issue or an experimental type as the car was.
- 1990's-Current issue. Embossed steel. Blue over refective white. Emblem is a decal and not screened
- (Courtesy of Jay Weinstein)
In late 2015, the license plates of the Alabama State Troopers underwent a change. The previous "blue state decal" license plates were replaced by a license plate of similar design, however with a light gold state decal. Little other information is known, so it would be advantageous to have a "tight shot" of what the new plates look like.
2016 issue plate with gold colored state emblem. Need a close up !
(Courtesy Tony Aleria)
Alabama DPS / Highway Patrol Front Plates
From the earliest days of Alabama DPS motoring, patrol vehicles ran license plates on the front and rear of the vehicles. Passenger car plates in sets were used up until 1942 and State Vehicle plates in sets were used up until the early 1960's. When front plates were no longer required in Alabama, Highway Patrol cars were mostly seen with thin embossed metal plates depicting the Confederate Flag. As the years moved on different front plates were used featuring everything from the state flag to auto dealership and athletic team booster plates. Some examples are seen below.
Courtesy Mats Jelvi
- Current Association Booster. Embossed aluminum
Verified Alabama DPS Motorcycle Issues
There is very little confirmed information with respect to early Alabama DPS motorcycle license plates. If motorcycles followed the same pattern of issuance as their four-wheeled counterparts, it would mean that DPS motorcycles would have started using S-prefixed State Motorcycle plates in 1942. It has been said however, that S-prefixed State Motorcycle plates were issued as far back as 1936, however confirmation of this has not yet been received. These motorcycle versions of State Vehicle plates followed the same annual color schemes as the full-size plates and used the same S prefix followed by up to three numbers.
1937 Mason City
Highway Patrol "Flying Squad"
- 1965 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 6" x 6". Reflective orange over dark blue. State Motorcycle issue
(Courtesy Paul Majerick)
- 1966 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 6" x 6". Reflective white over black. State Motorcycle issue
(Courtesy Paul Majerick)
- 1970 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 7" x 4". Blue over reflective white. State Motorcycle issue
- 1972 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 7" x 4". Black over reflective green. State Motorcycle issue (Quality control at the prison plate shop was a little loose that year!)
- 1974 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 7" x 4". Black over reflective white. State Motorcycle issue
- Circa 1975-1980's issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 7" x 4". Dark blue over grey. Department of Public Safety issue
- Current issue State Government Motorcycle issue. Features graphic of state seal
- National Troopers Coalition Souvenir from NTC Conference that was co-hosted with the Mississippi Highway Patrol