Nevada Highway Patrol

On June 23, 1923, the first Nevada State Highway Patrolman was hired by the Nevada Highway Department under the supervision of the Inspector of the Nevada State Police. This officer and the Inspector of the State Police would travel throughout the State collecting automobile registration fees and enforcing the laws of the highway.

Nevada was one of the first western states to have an organized highway patrol function. By 1934, the highway patrol force had grown to three officers still supervised by the Inspector of the State Police. They were given silver patrol cars with gold stars on the door; red lights and sirens, and told to patrol the roads. One officer was assigned to Reno, one to Carson City and one to Las Vegas.

The 1949 Nevada Legislature created the Nevada Highway Patrol by consolidating the Nevada State Police, Inspectors from the Nevada Public Service Commission and several Inspectors from the Nevada Department of Taxation. On July 1, 1949, the Nevada Highway Patrol Division was created within the Nevada Public Service Commission. These officers were directed to act as field agents and inspectors in the enforcement of the State laws as they pertained to Nevada highways.

In 1957, the Legislature created the Department of Motor Vehicles and transferred the Nevada Highway Patrol to this new department as a division. In 1985, the name of the Department was changed to the Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety (DMV&PS) to reflect the many new law enforcement agencies that had been added.

In 2001, DMV&PS was split into separate departments and the Nevada Highway Patrol is now a division of the Nevada Department of Public Safety. Today the Nevada Highway Patrol serves the citizens and visitors of the Silver State with 356 commissioned officers and 177 civilians. The duties of the Patrol range from enforcing the laws on the highways to operating the State's criminal history repository. The headquarters office is located in Carson City with regional offices in Las Vegas, Reno and Elko.

The Nevada Highway Patrol is dedicated to ensuring safe, economical, and enjoyable use of the highways: protecting peaceful citizens against violence and disorder and assisting law enforcement agencies throughout our State and the nation.

Nevada State Flag

On a cobalt blue background in the upper left quarter
is a five-pointed silver star between two sprays of sagebrush
crossed to form a half wreath; across the top of the wreath is
a golden scroll with the words, in black letters, "Battle Born."
The name "Nevada" is beneath the star in gold letters.
The current Nevada State Flag design was adopted
March 26, 1929, and revised in 1991.

1908 saw the formation of the Nevada State Police. Most of the patrol work in the early days was conducted on horseback,
but gradually the automobile and motorcycle began to become the preferred method of duty travel for the NSP by the late
teens into the 1920's. It is believed that license plates used by the NSP were Exempt plates that required no annual
fee to the state. Exempt plates were introduced back in 1921 and were made of steel. They were painted flat in white over medium green with the word EXEMPT at the top of the plate over the word NEVADA in much larger font with a serial number running vertically along the right margin of the plate.

The word "EXEMPT" in full remained on Nevada exempt plates until 1925 when the EX prefix was introduced to preserve space on the plate. On June 23, 1923, the first Nevada State Highway Patrolman was hired by the Nevada Highway Department under the supervision of the Inspector of the Nevada State Police. This officer and the Inspector of the State Police would travel throughout the State collecting automobile registration fees and enforcing the laws of the highway. Nevada was one of the first western states to have an organized highway patrol function. In 1930, Nevada began issuing Highway Department Exempt license plates for vehicles assigned specifically to the Highway Department. As there is a likelihood of cross-usage between use of EX license plates for these officers and HD EX license plates as well, I have decided to feature both types from the earliest years until the NHP began to use agency-specific license plates in 1965.


1921/22 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx. 12" x 6" Flat painted White over Green. EXEMPT between upper mounting holes over NEVADA and 3 digit number vertical on right margin.

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1923 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6". Yellow-Orange over Black. Characters are debossed.

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1924 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
White over Green. Characters are debossed.

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1925 Base
EX = Exempt
Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1926 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
Yellow over Black. Characters are debossed.

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1927 Base
EX = Exempt
Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1928 Base
EX = Exempt
Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1929 Base
EX = Exempt
Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1930 Exempt Plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
Orange over Black. Ornate border

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1930 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not
confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at
the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction
with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel.
Approx 12" x 6". Orange over Black. Ornate border.
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1931 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
Black over Orange. Ornate border
.
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1931 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
Black over Orange. Ornate border.

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1932 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
Orange over Black. Regular border.

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1932 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
Orange over Black. Regular border.

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1933 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
White over Green

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1933 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel.
Approx 12" x 6". White over Green.

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By 1934, the highway patrol force had grown to three officers still supervised by the Inspector of the State Police. They were given silver patrol cars with gold stars on the door, red lights and sirens, and told to patrol the roads. One officer was assigned to Las Vegas, Reno and Elko.

1934 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
Green over white
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Photographic proof of the Nevada Highway Patrol using Highway Department plates.
Circa
1934


1934 Highway Department Exempt plate.
Approx 12" x 6". Green over White. Steel

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1935 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
White over Green

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1935 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel.
Approx 12" x 6". White over Green.

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1936 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6". Silver over Blue
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1936 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel.
Approx 12" x 6". Silver over Blue.

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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1937 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6". Blue over Silver
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1937 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not
confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at
the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction
with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
Blue over Silver.

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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this type plate on duty....
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1938 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6". Silver over Blue
Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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1938 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not
confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at
the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction
with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel.
Approx 12" x 6". Silver over Blue.

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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this type plate on duty....
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1939 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6". Blue over Silver
Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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this type plate on duty....
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1939 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not
confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at
the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction
with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel.
Approx 12" x 6". Blue over Silver.

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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this type plate on duty....
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1940 Base
EX = Exempt
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1940 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel. Approx 11 1/2" x 5 3/4".. Silver over Blue.

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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1941 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8"
Blue over Silver

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1942 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6". Silver over Blue
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1943 Exempt plate. 1942 issue with tab. Steel. Approx 11 1/2" x 5 3/4". Silver over Blue with embossed 2" x 3 1/4"
metal tab- Yellow over red with 43

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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1944 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel.
Approx 11 5/8" x 5 3/4". White over Red.

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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1945 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 3/4"
Blue over Silver

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1945 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 3/4". Blue over Silver
Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1946 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8".
Silver over Blue

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1947 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8"
Blue over Silver

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1947 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction
with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel.
Approx 11 1/2" x 5 3/4". Blue over Silver

Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1948 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8".
Silver over Blue

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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1948 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the
time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with
EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel. Approx 11 1/2" x 5 3/4". Silver over Blue.

Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1949 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8"Blue over Silver. First year for newly formed Nevada Highway Patrol

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1950 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8".
Silver over Blue

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1950 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel.
Approx 11 1/2" x 5 3/4".. Silver over Blue.

Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1951 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8" Blue over Silver. First year for newly formed Nevada Highway Patrol

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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1951 Exempt plate with S-prefixed number. Possibly exclusive for State Exempt vehicle. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8"Blue over Silver. First year for newly formed Nevada Highway Patrol

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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1952 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8".
Silver over Blue

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1953 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8".
Gold over Medium Green- No year.

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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1953 Highway Department Exempt plate. Although not confirmed for use by Nevada SP Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the plate is featured as potential use in conjunction
with EX prefixed plates at the time. Steel.
Approx 11 1/2" x 5 3/4" Gold over Medium Green- No year.

Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1954/55 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 11 5/8" x 5 5/8". Silver
over Dark Blue. No year. Some of these plates run letter C or N.
Unsure if County designation or signifies something else.

Courtesy of Rick Schofield

Picture courtesy of
Trooper Chris Palma, Nevada Highway Patrol

1956-57 Exempt plate. Steel. Approx 12" x 6".
Red over Silver. Validated for 1958 with green Decal
which reads: NEVADA Exp-6-30-58 All subsequent
plates were 12" x 6" in dimension.

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1956-1958 Exempt plate. Steel. ST in center of plate may
signify State Exempt vehicle. Validated for 1958 with
green Decal which reads: NEVADA Exp-6-30-58

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1956/58 Highway Department plate. CONFIRMED USAGE
of these Highway Department plates on NHP patrol cars as
per longtime Nevada resident and avid license
plate historian Roy Carson

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1959/60 Exempt plate. Steel. Yellow over Black

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1959/60 Highway Department plate. Although not confirmed
for use by Nevada Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the
plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX
prefixed plates at the time. Steel. Yellow over Black.
Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1961/64 Exempt plate. Steel. Silver over Blue. Low 2-digit
number likely used for NHP vehicles.

Courtesy of Rick Schofield


Picture courtesy of the
Nevada Highway Patrol


1961/64 Highway Department plate. Although not confirmed
for use by Nevada Highway Patrol Officers at the time, the
plate is featured as potential use in conjunction with EX
prefixed plates at the time. Steel. Silver over Dark Blue.

Courtesy of Rick Schofield
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Circa 1965 light bar sign. Embossed aluminum.
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1965/68 issue. Embossed aluminum. #2 plate issued to Deputy Superintendent of the Patrol
Photo Courtesy of Gerry Jaillet
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1969/72 issue. Debossed reflective aluminum. Rank of Major.
Photo Courtesy of Gerry Jaillet
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1970 issue. Debossed reflective aluminum. State name abbreviated followed by empty validation decal "navel" above number. Shown "In Action" on the front of this Dodge Polara.
Photo Courtesy of Gerry Jaillet
 

Circa 1976 showing that some NHP patrol vehicles bore
state exempt plates (Diamond E)

Photo Courtesy of Monty McCord

1972-1984 issue. Debossed reflective aluminum. First time
HIGHWAY PATROL title seen on NHP license plates.
Used until Summer of 1984 and run front and rear.
Validation decals never used despite large "sticker navel"
in the top right corner of the plate.

1972-1984 issue for Motor Carrier Officer. Also known as
Truck Troopers who enforce Commercial Vehicle law on the
highways. This plate is an older version with the state name
more centered

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1984/85 issue. Embossed reflective aluminum.
Known as the "Sheep graphic" for it's illustration of a Bighorn Sheep on a hillside. Began use in Mid 1984 and
discontinued on September 1 1985. Plate consisted of NHP
prefix followed by four digit number. The lead number
indicated the rank of the assigned officer followed by the
officer's ID number.
Known lead numbers are:

2###: Rank of Captain and Higher.
3###: Rank of Lieutenant.
5###: Rank of Sergeant.
6### : Rank of Corporal.
7###: Rank of Trooper.
8### Commercial Officers.
9### Cadet (Rarely used)

This plate belonged to a Trooper with ID number 159, the
same officer who was assigned the 1972-1984
plate shown above.

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Mid-Late 1980's. Embossed reflective aluminum. Standard
exempt plate on Sheep Graphic. Stacked EX followed by 5
digit number. Used by some NHP vehicles not directly
assigned to an officer's ID number.

Photo Courtesy of Monty McCord

1986- 1990's issue- Dog Handler
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1986/87 issue. Embossed reflective aluminum. HIGHWAY
PATROL embossed. Newer Sheep Graphic plates has the
sheep in the left corner of the plate where earlier versions
had the animal to the right of the left upper mounting hole.
The shade of blue for the state name is also darker than
the earlier version.

This picture courtesy of
Jay Weinstein


1987-2001 issue. Embossed reflective aluminum. HIGHWAY
PATROL silkscreened. Appear to use 3M dies for
embossing the number.

This picture courtesy of
Jay Weinstein

2001-Current issue. Embossed reflective aluminum. Known as the Sierra Sunset base. HIGHWAY PATROL embossed.

Picture courtesy Trooper M Bradford

Current issue showing that some NHP patrol vehicles
bare standard Exempt plates (stacked EX prefix)


Current issue showing a completely flat, screened plate.
Picture courtesy Trooper M Bradford
MOTORCYCLE LICENSE PLATES
The NHP used patrol motorcycles in the Las Vegas area by 1965 and into the early 1970's. Patrol Harley Davidsons were purchased in 1972, but then mothballed until 1974. One motor unit worked the the state line with California thru the Summer of 1974 until Labor Day before being stored-away again until the Summer of 1975 thru 1977. It is believed that these bikes used white on blue EX-prefixed motorcycle plates with no reserved number. On June 17 1988, the Nevada Highway patrol inaugurated a four-man motorcycle unit in the Las Vegas Valley. The plates used were standard 7" x 4" embossed reflective aluminum motorcycle license plates. in Dark blue over white.

Motorcycle License Plate
1988-2003

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1989 Inaugural issue
Picture courtesy of
Trooper Chris Palma, Nevada Highway Patrol

Picture courtesy of
Trooper Chris Palma, Nevada Highway Patrol

Embossed steel frame used by NHP
Picture courtesy of
Trooper Chris Palma, Nevada Highway Patrol