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.
License Plates of the Florida Highway Patrol
- 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.
(Picture courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol)
- 1937 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 5 1/4 " x 12"
White over green: 1937-FLORIDA over ### SRD
(STATE ROAD DEPARTMENT)
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. There is also the 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 known surviving physical specimen to support this belief, but the 1941 photo seen below lends itself to interpretation as it offers no clear and confirming detail being a black and white photo.
1940 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 5 1/4" x 12".
Black over white.
Potentially first issue FHP license plate.
(Courtesy Joe Sallmen)
- 1941 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 5 1/4" x 12" Likely white over red (possibly the double-colored background plate, but hard to tell): FHP-### over 19 FLORIDA 41
- 1942 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 5 1/4" x 12"
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.
- 1944 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 5 1/4" x 12"
Dark blue over lemon yellow.
- 1954-1955 issue- Embossed steel. Approx. 5 1/4" x 12"
Dark blue over reflective orange.
An experimental reflective sheeting was used on FHP license plates in 1954 and stated to have been used into 1955 to test the durability of such sheeting.
As seen in this photo, it was prone to "bleeding" and spot blemishing.
- 1956-1960 issue- Embossed steel.
Standard 6"x12" Dark blue over white.
Validated for 1957, 1958 and 1959 with paper decals placed over the "56" bearing those years.
- 1954 issue with 1961 validation decal applied over the 54.
Dark blue over reflective orange.
Decal is white over blue.
This would indicate that two types of FHP license plates were used between 1956 and 1962.
(Courtesy Joe Sallmen)
1960 was the year when permanent license plates began to be used by the FHP for all of its marked patrol vehicles. The plates were supplied by the 3M Company of Minnesota,
which is a practice that still intermittently continues to this day. In fact, the older Type 1 and Type 2 versions of these plates featured the very distinctive choppy mitered die fonts that Minnesota license plates used from the late 1920's until 1954.
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 and approximately when they were issued. 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.
- 1960-Circa 1965 issue- Known as Type 1. Embossed galvanized steel. Blue over reflective white.
State name, FHP, parallelogram dash and SUNSHINE STATE silkcreened using crude linear font.
Number and border embossed.
Earliest versions had a 19 in the lower left hand corner and decal for year in bottom right.
Circa 1960. Showing Type 1 plate with 19 and decal for year in bottom corners of the plate.
1960. Courtesy Jim Aitken
Type 2 FHP plates were 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 its contemporaries. Drop him a line if you know where it is.
This photograph shows how to tell the difference between an early-issue FHP permanent license plate and all subsequent types. Although the screened state name and slogan remain the same, the FHP prefix and dash are the tell-tale difference.
On a Type 1 and Type 2 plate, the letter P of FHP is almost entirely under the letter O of FLORIDA. The dash is also a large parallelogram.
All later types use a thinner font for the FHP prefix where the P falls under the letter L of FLORIDA and the dash is smaller and more square. The thinner FHP prefix and smaller dash was introduced in anticipation of FHP fleet numbers going into 4 digits and the space for the extra number was required.
- Early 1970's-1980's- Known as "Type 3"- As pictured, similar to Types 1 and 2, however with the thinner FHP prefix. This plate also has a small engraved number 1 in the lower right hand corner. It is believed, that plate 1 was issued to the vehicle, and plate 2 was a spare retained by the fleet department in the event of loss or theft. ARRIVE ALIVE plates were used on the front during this period.
- 1977 FHP Plymouth Fury with Type 3 plate
- Circa 1980-1987- Known as "Type 4"- As pictured, similar to its predecessor but the only difference being the use of a smaller and softer-looking die for the numbers compared to the previous choppy mitered-style Minnesota dies.
The small engraved number in the bottom right corner was discontinued.
- 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.
(Courtesy of www.specialservicemustang.net)
From 1987 until 2003, the FHP began issuing "Troop Plates". The plates featured the added distinction of displaying the Troop letter where the plate number was assigned. These license plates varied in so many ways as the plates were primarily manufactured and donated by 3M as a means to test the durability of their plates in the Florida climate. The plates follow the same format with the state name positioned between the upper mounting holes silkscreened blue in upper case font. The word TROOP was silkscreened in blue with smaller upper case font on the bottom of the plate which was positioned off-center between the lower mounting holes. The space to the right of TROOP was to accommodate a reflective white decal with the assigned troop letter in blue. The FHP prefix was followed by one to four assignment numbers. These elements are the only consistent application on these plates. Character die types, sheeting, gauge of aluminum, holograms and paints are a hodge-podge over the course of 15 years and it is difficult to tell which came before the other.
Dated holograms in the reflective sheeting have only been detected on a couple of examples. Again, I will do my best with the chronology here by placing them in the order based on the date of those holograms where the month/year appears. Otherwise, I must rely on period photos and input of those individuals who can attest as to "which came when".
- 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
- 1987-2003 issue. Earliest type. January 1987 hologram in the background sheeting. Embossed Alaska-style dies on the plate situated very low. Troop B (Lake City)
- 1980's Ford LTD with early issue Troop plate.
- 1987-2003 issue. Embossed Alaska-style dies more centered.
Troop L (Lantana)
- 1987-2003 issue. No space between FHP prefix and numbers. Dark blue paint on characters rather than medium-blue typically used.
Troop A (Panama City)
From November 15th 1989 to December 31 1989, the Florida Highway Patrol introduced very attractive graphic license plates commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the FHP. The plates were embossed aluminum with a reflective white background. Across the span of the plate just below the upper mounting holes was the title FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL silkscreened in blue. An assignment number up to four digits was embossed in green to the center right of the plate. On the left side of the plate was a silkscreened graphic in orange, dark blue, aquamarine and green. The emblem of the FHP was superimposed over a motif of the state which is topped with a scroll that reads: COURTESY-SERVICE-PROTECTION. The FHP emblem is flanked on the left by a crop of palm trees and foliage, with a scroll below it that reads: 1939-1989- 50 YEARS.
The plates were stated by some to have been run "rear only" on marked FHP vehicles and others state they recall being run on the front. Some say the assignment numbers were issued based on seniority, others say they were radio call numbers. Many also state they were just issued randomly. What IS the biggest oddity in all of this, is that not only is there a strange lack of confirmed information about these plates, but in all of the years I have been collecting and documenting state police and highway patrol license plates, I have NEVER come across a period photo of one of these plates actually in use!
I know they were, but I would just LOVE to see what one looked like "in action back in the day".
Once the Anniversary was over, these plates were for the most part retained by the assigned FHP officer and kept as souvenirs.
- 1989 50th Anniversary issue. Used only for a month and a half (November 15th-December 31 1989) on FHP marked vehicles to commemorate the Golden Anniversary of the FHP.
- 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.
- 1987-2003 issue. Features narrow mitered dies used by Florida DMV not 3M.
Troop C (Tampa)
- SSP Mustang with narrow mitered die version plate
- 1987-2003 issue. Large and deeply embossed characters in dark blue.
Troop C (Tampa)
- 1987-2003 issue. Unusual all-screened version where state name appears to be in different font from typical layout.
Troop E (Miami)
- 1987-2003 issue. All-silkscreened. Began to be issued circa 1999.
Troop C (Tampa)
- 1987-2003 issue. All-silkscreened 4-numbered version. Features holograms depicting this plate as manufactured in 1999.
No troop decal
- 1987-2003 issue. Later version. All-silkscreened on entirely flat borderless sheet of aluminum. Uses a font style for assignment number not normally seen on FHP plates.
Troop decal has FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL marked from left-top-right of decal.
Troop G (Jacksonville)
In 2003, the Florida Highway Patrol gradually began phasing-out the "troop plates" which had been in use for over 16 years in favor of a new and attractive graphic design.
While attending a conference in Atlanta, Georgia, FHP Colonel Chris Knight had observed the attractive and distinctive graphic license plates used by the Georgia State Patrol on their vehicles. Upon his return to Tallahassee, Colonel Knight began setting in motion the necessary action to get equally attractive and equally-distinctive license plates made-up for his FHP fleet.
As had been the case with FHP license plates since 1960, the 3M company was eager to assist again. For many years, in exchange for research and evaluation information, 3M Corporation has provided FHP vehicle license plates at no cost. The information 3M Corporation gathers from examining used FHP license plates helps to identify both positive and negative characteristics concerning the longevity and appearance of the materials used to manufacture the plate. This information is critical to their research technology.
In addition, 3M Corporation also provided upgraded American flag license plates for the front of FHP patrol vehicles which will be featured further along on this page.
The earlier versions of these plates had embossed numerals on an all-white background and the later version phased-in a cream-colored background and all-screened numerals .
- 2003-2014 issue. Earlier issue features all-white background and embossed Alaska-style dies. Remainder of plate is silkscreened including FHP patch logo and state silhouette in medium green.
- 2003-2014 issue. Second phase where the background changed to a cream colored field bordered in white.
Numbers embossed in Alaska-style dies.
- 2003-2014 issue. All-silkscreened version. Lighter shade of green for state silhouette.
- 2003-2014 issue. Mitered dies from 2014.
(Courtesy Mike Doucette)
- 2002 Prototype blank.
No edging around state silhouette.
- 2002 Prototype blank.
Black edging around state silhouette.
2014 marked the Florida Highway Patrol's 75th Anniversary. The occasion was marked with a variety of celebrations and keepsakes. One of which was an attractive Diamond Anniversary license plate for the marked FHP fleet. The embossed aluminum plate comprised of a black background trimmed in white along the step border. The state name was centered at the top of the plate in white trimmed orange silkscreen. STATE TROOPER was done the same way but placed at the bottom center of the plate. A stylized FHP shoulder patch emblem was silkscreened and occupied the far left field of the plate. The emblem had a curved white scroll banner with ANNIVERSARY spelled out in dark blue with miniature versions of FHP emblems. Below that on the lower portion of the orange, a diamond motif was flanked by 1939 and 2014 on either side. The assignment number was embossed in white mitered Florida DMV dies.
These plates were displayed on the rear of marked FHP vehicles for the duration of the anniversary.
In 2015, the FHP fleet returned to the 2003 layout license plate.
A souvenir version of this 75th Anniversary license plate was made with the characters FHP75 embossed in white in lieu of an assignment number (seen further below).
- 2014 Diamond Anniversary issue. Embossed aluminum.
White over black. Used only into 2015.
In 2015, the popularity of the black background 75th Anniversary plate paved the way for continued use after the event by eliminating the diamond anniversary white band that spanned the center of the FHP emblem.
The "bannerless" black FHP license plates are still in use.
- 2015-Current issue. Embossed aluminum.
No diamond white banner across center of FHP emblem.
(Courtesy Bob Bruce)
Florida Highway Patrol 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 or consistent 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 patrol vehicles.
- 1970-1971 ARRIVE ALIVE safety campaign front plate. Embossed steel. Reflective white over blue
- 1972 ARRIVE ALIVE safety campaign front plate. Embossed steel. Orange over white.
- 1973-circa 1980 ARRIVE ALIVE safety campaign front plate. Embossed steel. Undated multi-year type.
- 1977 Plymouth Fury with undated ARRIVE ALIVE plate
- Circa 1981-late 1980's ARRIVE ALIVE safety campaign front plate. Embossed aluminum. Similar to color/layout of standard passenger Florida license plates of the early 1980's with orange silhouette of state silkscreened at center of plate. Added the slogan BUCKLE UP along bottom.
- Unknown “booster" type. 1981 base plate style. No state name- only silkscreened state silhouette in orange with word TROOPER embossed in green.
Believed to be an NTC souvenir issue, but not confirmed.
- Flat silkscreened metal “booster" type.
Navy blue, green and orange over white.
- Flat silkscreened plastic BUCKLE UP FLORIDA! “booster" type. Navy blue and RED over white. Unsure as to period of issue/use.
(Courtesy Bob Bruce)
- First “cellphone issue" front plate.
Medium blue over reflective white.
Indicates to the public to dial “star" FHP for assistance.
Uncertain as to when this plate was introduced or for how long it was used.
- Flat silkscreened plastic/vinyl American Flag front plate. Issued from circa 1999 and used during replacement by aluminum replacements of the same layout in 2003.
(Courtesy Bob Bruce)
- 2003-Current American flag front plate. This reflective aluminum plate was provided by 3M along with the new graphic rear plates introduced in 2003 and still currently in use.
- 2014 issue. 75th Anniversary souvenir.
- Flat silkscreened metal FHP Auxiliary Trooper “booster" type. Navy blue, green and orange over white.
- 75th Anniversary FHP State Trooper booster plate.
Optional for use as front plate during anniversary.
- 75th Anniversary FHP Retiree booster plate.
Offered to retired members of the FHP for display on front of personal vehicle.
- 2017-current ARRIVE ALIVE safety campaign plate.
Embossed and screened orange over reflective white.
(Courtesy Jason DeCesare)
- Old Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary “booster" plate. Painted steel with embossed border. These plates would be optional front plates for use by FHP Auxiliary (reserve) Troopers on their personal vehicles. Believed to have been specially-ordered in late 1960's/early 1970's.
Motorcycle License Plates used by Florida Highway Patrol
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
- 1942 motorcycle issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 8" x 3".
Blue over orange. The letter A in the top left corner signified a motorcycle with over 5 horsepower.
- 1944 motorcycle issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 8"x3".
Black over lemon yellow. The letter A in the top left corner signified a motorcycle with over 5 horsepower.
- Circa 1980's-1990's motorcycle issue. Embossed aluminum. Approx. 7"x4". Medium blue over reflective white.
FLORIDA FHP, dash and TROOP silkscreened.
Four digit number embossed
- 2003-2015 morocycle issue.
Same colors as car-sized plate. All-screened.
- 2016 motorcycle issue. Embossed numerals.
Issued for short period between the all-screened FHP cycle plate and the introduction of the white on black cycle plates. Most returned and destroyed.
Florida Highway Patrol Souvenir Plates
Some souvenir or promotional license plates of the FHP have been made over the years. The majority of which have been National Trooper Coalition and International Association of Chiefs of Police conference souvenir plates. These plates are usually provided as gifts to visiting delegates from other police agencies who attend the hosted event.
As more are developed and discovered, I will showcase in this section.
- 2005 International Chiefs of Police conference souvenir plate. This event took place in September of that year in Miami. Same compostion and material as regular contemporary FHP license plate including subdued helix hologram running down center of plate.
- 2005 National Troopers Coaliton conference souvenir plate. Same compostion and material as regular contemporary FHP license plate with exception of year 2005 in top left corner.
Florida Marine Patrol License Plates
The Florida Marine Patrol, the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, the Florida Marine Research Institute and the Office of Fisheries Management and Assistance Services of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection all merged to form the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on July 1, 1999 as required by an amendment to the Florida Constitution. The enforcement mandate of the DEP remains essentially the same, but the traditional FMP as it had come to be known is no more.
Only one type of license plate for FMP vehicles was known to be issued so far, and used for at least 30 years. A standard 6"x12" embossed steel plate in the dark blue over lemon yellow color scheme used on 1961 regular Florida license plates. The state name is embossed in upper case font and centered between the top mounting holes. The prefix FMP is followed by a parallelogram dash and a number up to three digits. The state slogan SUNSHINE STATE is centered between the lower mounting holes. It should be noted too that the FMP prefix uses dies that are slightly smaller than the number. It is believed that FMP license plates began at number 1 and went into the 900's. Different front plates or no front plates were used, however the most common type used was an embossed steel plate in dark blue over light yellow with FLORIDA emblazoned across the mid section of the plate.
- Florida Marine Patrol. Back and front plates