Ohio State Highway Patrol

Since 1917, various members of the Ohio legislature had introduced bills to create a statewide police force. Many people, especially members of labor unions, opposed these bills, fearing that the Ohio government would use this police force to end strikes. Finally, in 1933, the Ohio government created this statewide police force, which is known as the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP).

The legislation creating the OSHP limited the patrolmen to enforcing motor vehicle laws on Ohio’s roads. A provision of the bill explicitly banned the OSHP from policing strikes and other forms of labor unrest. Initially, the OSHP consisted of sixty officers. The officers had to be between twenty-four and forty years of age. More than five thousand men applied to be one of the first sixty officers.

The OSHP established six district offices across Ohio, with three OSHP substations in each district. The district offices were in Toledo, Ravenna, Sidney, Delaware, Cambridge, and Chillicothe, while the substations were located in private homes across the district. The first patrol officers rode motorcycles, including in the dead of winter, to enforce the law. During its first year of existence, the OSHP accomplished much.

First, the OSHP succeeded in creating a statewide radio network, allowing law enforcement officials to communicate with each other across Ohio. For the time, it was the most comprehensive radio system in the United States. The OSHP also cited more than 120,000 drivers and made 4,233 arrests. In response to the OSHP’s early success, the Ohio legislature increased the number of patrolmen to 120 in 1935.

In 1941, the Ohio legislature authorized three hundred patrolmen. That same year, the OHP began to patrol additional routes besides state highways. The OSHP now had responsibility over all Ohio roadways except for those in municipalities. At this time, the OSHP also became responsible for all driving tests, which a new driver had to take to prove that he or she was competent to drive a motor vehicle. To assist patrolmen in enforcing traffic laws as well as to assist officers in searches for missing persons, the OSHP began to use airplanes in 1948.

In 1950, the OSHP also began to patrol Lake Erie and other waterways. Use of radar for speed enforcement and "Intoximeters" for drunk driving offenses began in 1952. Since the mid-twentieth century, the OSHP has continued to expand in size and in responsibilities.

In 1968, the Ohio General Assembly removed any limitations on the maximum number of OSHP patrolmen. Rather, the General Assembly established a new requirement that the OSHP should have at least 880 officers. 27 were motor vehicle inspectors.

On March 23, 1981, OSHP Troopers were finally given the right of search and seizure within its jurisdiction as any other police officer. In the early 1990's, the OSHP unveiled its 1-800-GRAB-DUI program. This was a toll-free telephone number to report intoxicated drivers. To encourage participation, highway signs and license plates of OSHP patrol cars appeared throughout the Buckeye State. In just under a year, over 18,000 calls to the GRAB DUI phone line were recorded During the last decades of the twentieth century, the OSHP also became an important agency in stopping the illegal drug trade.

The main goals of the OSHP throughout the last half of the twentieth century and the first years of the twenty-first century, however, continued to be the enforcement of traffic laws on Ohio’s roadways and to ensure that Ohio’s drivers were safe and qualified to drive motor vehicles. To illustrate this point, in the first nine months of 2005, the OSHP made 757,441 traffic stops.

The OSHP operates with over 1300 uniformed officers and over 1000 support personnel throughout 54 Posts, four Turnpike Installations and administrative offices throughout the state.

Ohio State Flag

Ohio's state flag was adopted in 1902.
The Ohio burgee, as the swallowtail design is properly called,
was designed by John Eisemann. The large blue triangle represents Ohio's
hills and valleys, and the stripes represent roads and waterways.
The 13 stars grouped about the circle represent the original states of
the union; the 4 stars added to the peak of the triangle symbolize that
Ohio was the 17th state admitted to the union. The white circle with its
red center not only represents the "O" in Ohio, but also suggests
Ohio's famous nickname, "The Buckeye State."


1934- First year for agency-specific license plates. White over
Maroon embossed steel (Approx. 5 3/4" x 13 3/4").

Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter

1935 issue. Yellow over Deep Navy Blue (appears black)
embossed steel (Approx 5 7/8" x 12) First year
"STATE PATROL" appears on plates.
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1936 issue.
Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter

1937 issue State over Patrol
over OHIO 1937 followed by number

Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter

1938 issue. Black over White embossed steel
(Approx 5 7/8" x 12) "ST" designation for "STATE"

Picture courtesy of the
Ohio State Highway Patrol

1939 issue. Navy Blue over White embossed steel
(Approx 5 7/8" x 12")
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1940 issue.
White over Maroon embossed steel
(Approx 5 7/8" x 12")

Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter

1941 issue. White over Maroon embossed steel
(Approx 5 7/8" x 13 7/8")
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1942 issue. Green over White embossed steel
(Approx 5 7/8" x 13 7/8") This is the last year for
agency-specific license plates for the OSHP until
the introduction of the 25th Anniversary plate in 1958.
This plate remained valid with windshield sticker
validation for 1943 and 1944 as a measure for metal
preservation during World War 2. From 1945 to 1958,
the OSHP marked vehicles only sported the car number in
gold leaf on the trunk lid and front hood profile.
The positioning of the number varied from year to year
and from car style to style.

1942 issue ~ State over Patrol followed by number
over OHIO-1942

Photo courtesy of Al Gaines
and the Carl Evans collection

Unknown date- Thinly painted aluminum (Approx 5.75"x10") Could be a license plate, could be a parking assignment sign. The mounting holes are precisely the same dimension and spacing as a standard 6"x12" license plate which leads me to believe (and hope) it's the former. No other versions of this type are known, and it is believed to be a one-time issue for the Superintendent of the OSHP somewhere between 1956 and 1958, or between 1959 and the 1970's when OSHP cars in general, did not sport any license plates at all.

 


1958-1959 issue- 25th Anniversary of the OSHP-Reflective blue and white decal that fills the inside of the embossed steel border. Some have patrol car number etched onto backside of plate. The OSHP permitted troopers to retain these plates as keepsakes when the plates were "retired" in late 1959. This was the last license plate issued to OSHP patrol vehicles until 1977 when the first generation of CB CH 9 plates were issued.
Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter

1977-1982 issue- CB CH9 was chosen to be the number on all OSHP license plates to advise motorists travelling in the Buckeye State, that the OSHP monitored and could be reached on channel 9 of a CB (Citizen's Band) radio if assistance was needed. Run rear only during this time.

Picture courtesy of the
Ohio State Highway Patrol

1982-Jan.1 1984 issue- 50th Anniversary of the OSHP- Reflective gold/ black on sign-grade aluminum. Run only on rear of OSHP patrol vehicles. The 1977-1982 CB CH 9 plates had been removed and sent to storage at Headquarters in Columbus during this time. On New Years Day of 1984, the order was given to remove and retain the 50th Anniversary plates at each Post. Three days later an order was given to return these plates to Headquarters with the exception that each trooper could retain one plate each as a memento, while the others went for recycling.

Picture Picture courtesy of the
Ohio State Highway Patrol

1984-Early 1990's issue- Although most of the 1977-1982 CB CH9 plates that were in HQ storage were reissued to replace the 50th Anniversary plates, once they ran out , this type was used on the rear only. Two empty recessed sticker navels in lower corners. OHIO on bottom. Step border.
Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection


Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter

1990's issue- The trend of continuing the CB CH 9 plates continued into the 1990's in a variety of styles and formats. This one in red with the CH and 9 spaced apart.
Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection

Picture courtesy of Paolo Valchi

1990's issue- The trend of continuing the CB CH 9 plates continued into the 1990's in a variety of styles and formats. This one in red with the CH9 together.

Picture courtesy of
Jay Weinstein

1990's issue-The trend of continuing the CB CH 9 plates continued into the 1990's in a variety of styles and formats. This one in blue with the CH and 9 spaced apart.
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1990's issue-The trend of continuing the CB CH 9 plates
continued into the 1990's in a variety of styles and formats.
This one in blue with the CH and 9 close together.
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1990's issue ERROR-The trend of continuing the CB CH 9 plates continued into the 1990's in a variety of styles and formats. This one in blue is an error as the H and C were mistakenly switched.
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1990's issue-The trend of continuing the CB CH 9 plates continued into the 1990's in a variety of styles and formats. This one in red with CB CH9 compacted into the center.
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1991- 1996 "Heart of It All" issue- In August of 1991, the OSHP with the support of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) launched the 1-800-GRAB-DUI program. All OSHP marked patrol cars bore these special license plates that directed citizens who observed a potential drunk driving offender to call the toll free number to report the observation. From August 1 1991 to August 30 2003, over 56,000 calls were placed to the toll free number resulting in 14,435 arrests of habitual offenders (5 or more previous drunk driving charges) according to MADD. This license plate program was eventually extended to county sheriff and municipal police forces throughout Ohio as well.

Picture courtesy of
Jay Weinstein

1996- Circa 2003 "Birthplace of Aviation" issue- In August of 1991, the OSHP with the support of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) launched the 1-800-GRAB-DUI program. All OSHP marked patrol cars bore these special license plates that directed citizens who observed a potential drunk driving offender to call the toll free number to report the observation. From August 1 1991 to August 30 2003, over 56,000 calls were placed to the toll free number resulting in 14,435 arrests of habitual offenders (5 or more previous drunk driving charges) according to MADD. This license plate program was eventually extended to county sheriff and municipal police forces throughout Ohio as well.

Picture courtesy of
Jay Weinstein

1996-Circa 2003 issue. CB CH 9 re-appears. Mostly used as a front plate to the 1-800-GRAB-DUI plate on the rear.

Picture courtesy of Paolo Valchi

2001-Current issue. This "Need Help?" plate was introduced in 2001 and replaced the 1-800-GRAB-DUI plates. Toll free number put the caller through to OSHP assistance. Features OSHP "winged wheel" logo in center.

Picture courtesy of
Jay Weinstein

Late 2006-Current issue with the "GRAB DUI" phrase.
A version with "NEED HELP?" and the telephone number
of the OSHP as the plate pictured above was also issued
on this base plate and features the subdued insignia of the OSHP in the center. Also in use since late 2006. Photo
needed of the latter version and Norm is searching for
either one to add to his collection .
Courtesy of Bill Ceravola Collection

Picture courtesy of Andrew Heston

2011 issue.
GRAB DUI being issued again to marked patrol
vehicles of the Ohio State Highway Patrol

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Current Issue 75th Anniversary plate
Picture courtesy of Robert Ward

Picture courtesy of Robert Ward

Early 1960's issue. Rare booster-type(front) plate for OSHP Auxiliary Officer. Not a patrol vehicle plate.
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First year for agency-specific license plates. White over Maroon embossed steel (Approx. 4 3/8" x 9 3/8"). Run rear only.
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1936 issue. Blue over White embossed steel.
(Approx 4 3/8" x 9 3/8")
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1939 issue. Navy Blue over White embossed steel.
(Approx 4 7/16" x 9 1/8")
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1940 issue. White over black embossed steel.
(Approx 4 7/16" x 9 1/8")
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1941 issue.
White over black embossed steel.
(Approx 4 7/16" x 9 1/8")

Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter

1942 issue sample plate. Green over white embossed steel.
(Approx 4 7/16" x 9 1/8") It can be surmised that as 1942 was
the last year for agency-specific car plates, that it was perhaps
the last year for agency-specific motorcycle plates as well.
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2006 issue from newly-reformed OSHP motorcycle patrol unit.
Picture courtesy of Robert Ward

Picture courtesy of Robert Ward


ACE (Aggressive Criminal Enforcement) / BLUE MAX License Plates

The Ohio State Highway Patrol's ACE/Blue Max program is an incentive recognition system which rewards troopers who recover stolen vehicles with on-the-spot suspect apprehension by presenting lightning bolt decals for display on their patrol cars, much as ACE World War I and II air force pilots marked their aircraft's fuselage with the symbol of each downed enemy aircraft. Five stolen vehicle recoveries with on- the-spot suspect apprehensions in one calendar year earn the ACE Award, with the officer recovering the most stolen vehicles designated as the Blue Max winner. Each ACE Award winner receives a certificate, special ACE license plates for display on the patrol car, and a uniform ribbon. The Blue Max winner (Ace of ACEs) receives a certificate, the Blue Max medal, Blue Max license plates, a uniform ribbon, a Superintendent's Citation of Merit, and exclusive use of a patrol car for a year.

Since its inception in 1972 as the Vehicle Larceny Enforcement Program, the ACE/Blue Max program has produced over 550 ACEs. To date, there have been 33 Blue max plates issued. There have been many variations on the style and format of OSHP ACE and Blue Max license plates.

This successful program has been emulated by many law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. Since the program's inception in 1972, it has played an important role in helping Ohio maintain a vehicle theft rate well below the national average. From program inception through the end of 2001, a total of 598 Ohio Highway Patrol officers earned ACE status. In that time, troopers recovered 37,631 stolen vehicles valued at $177,773,032.

Needless to say, most OSHP Troopers do not part easily with these coveted trophies of highly diligent and above-average law enforcement activity!


1972 issue ACE award- First Issue when the ACE program
was launched. Embossed steel. Red Bolts (Seven on this one!)
Red ACE-Blue embossed border. Black on the reverse.
One of 7 issued that year. Only ACE plate that did not
have a reflective background.

Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter

1973 issue ACE award- First reflective issue. Embossed steel.
Blue Bolts-Red ACE with words STATE and OHIO embossed
in red-Embossed blue border. Flat silver-gray on the reverse.
One of 25 issued that year.
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Early 1974 issue. Embossed steel. Red bolts- Red ACE with
words STATE and OHIO embossed in red- Embossed blue
border.. Flat silver-grey on reverse. There was only ONE pair
of these plates issued before the style change later in the year.
This plate was earned and used by Ptlm John E. Spitler who
was also the Ohio State Highway Patrol's first Blue Max
recipient in 1972!
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Late 1974 issue. Embossed steel. Red bolts- Red ACE and
embossed border. Flat silvery-grey on reverse. One of 37
issued that year. This was also the version that set the pattern
for the subsequent ACE plates from then on.
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1975 issue. Embossed steel. Blue bolts- Red ACE. Blue embossed border (red paint can be seen underneath). Emerald green on reverse. One of 43 issued that year.
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1976 issue. Embossed steel. Blue bolts- Red ACE.
Red embossed border. Flat silvery-grey on reverse.
One of 31 issued that year. Last year for steel plates
for the next 5 years.

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1977 issue. Embossed aluminum. Blue bolts- Red ACE.
Red embossed border. Bright aluminum on reverse.
One of 43 issued that year. First year for aluminum
plates used by the state.
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1978 issue. Embossed aluminum. Red bolts- Red ACE.
Red embossed border. Bare aluminum on reverse.
One of 25 issued that year.
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1979 issue. Embossed aluminum. Blue bolts- Red ACE.
Red embossed border. OHIO embossed in red- Bare
aluminum on reverse. One of 26 issued that year.
Last time state name appears on ACE plates
until 6 years later.
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Early 1980 issue. Embossed aluminum. Red bolts- Blue ACE.
Step border. Two square debossed sticker navels in lower
corners. Bare aluminum on reverse. One of 34 issued that
year. This plate has a very glossy thick-lacquered coating
to it and a much darker blue used on the embossing.
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Late 1980 issue. Embossed aluminum. Red bolts- Blue ACE.
Step border. Two square debossed sticker navels in lower
corners. Bare aluminum on reverse. One of 34 issued that year.
This plate features a brighter white background and a
lighter shade of blue on the embossing.
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1981 issue. Embossed aluminum. Blue bolts- Blue ACE.
Step border. Two square debossed sticker navels in lower
corners. Bare aluminum on reverse. 16 issued that year.
This one was awarded to Tpr. Barry Elder.
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1982 issue. Embossed steel. Red bolts- Blue ACE. Step border.
Two square debossed sticker navels in lower corners.
Lacquered steel on reverse. One of 15 issued that year.
This issue brought back the use of steel as the government
of the day wanted to give a boost to the ailing steel
industry in Ohio.
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1983 issue. Embossed steel. Blue bolts- Blue ACE. Step border.
Two square debossed sticker navels in lower corners.
Lacquered steel on reverse with brazing along
vertical edges. One of 8 issued that year.
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(missing)
1984 issue. Embossed steel. Red bolts- Blue ACE. Step border.
Two square debossed sticker navels in lower corners. Bare steel
on reverse. One of 24 issued that year. Norm is actively seeking
one of these for his collection. Drop me a line if you can help.

1985 issue. Embossed steel. Blue bolts- Blue ACE. Step border.
Two square debossed sticker navels in lower corners. Bare steel
with textured coating on reverse. One of 34 issued that year
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1986 issue. Embossed steel. Red bolts- Blue ACE. Step border.
Two square debossed sticker navels in lower corners. Bare steel
with textured coating on reverse. One of 14 issued that year.
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1987 issue. Embossed steel. Blue bolts- Blue ACE. Step border.
Two square debossed sticker navels in lower corners.
Lacquered steel on reverse. One of 19 issued that year.
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1988 issue. Embossed steel. Red bolts- Blue ACE. Step border.
Two square debossed sticker navels in lower corners. Bare steel
with textured coating on reverse. Bolts set closer to ACE.
One of 11 issued that year
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1989 issue. Embossed steel. Blue bolts- Blue ACE. Step border.
Two square debossed sticker navels in lower corners.
Bare steel with textured coating on reverse.
Last year for the square sticker navels.
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1990 issue. Embossed galvanized steel. Red bolts- Blue ACE.
Step border. Two rectangular debossed sticker navels in lower
corners. Bare galvanized steel on reverse.
Bolts set close and tight to ACE.
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1991 issue. Embossed galvanized steel. Blue bolts- Blue ACE.
Step border. Two rectangular debossed sticker navels in lower
corners. Lacquered galvanized steel on reverse.
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1992 issue. Embossed galvanized steel. Red bolts- Blue ACE.
Step border. Two rectangular debossed sticker navels in lower
corners. Lacquered galvanized steel on reverse.
Bolts on lower angle and closer to edge.

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

Photo courtesy of Andrew Heston

1993 issue. Embossed steel. Blue bolts- Blue ACE. Step border.
Two rectangular debossed sticker navels in lower corners.
Lacquered plain steel on reverse.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Heston

1990's-Current issue- Red characters with blue bolts

(indicating an odd-year award)
Photo courtesy of Al Gaines,
plate courtesy of the Carl Evans collection
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1990's issue. Unusual type with black lettering and blue
bolts (indicating an odd year) Embossed steel. Step border.
Two rectangular debossed sticker navels in lower corners.
Plain grey steel on reverse.
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Early 2000's issue
Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter
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Circa 2005 ACE plate-
Ohio and ACE are screened with blue lightning
bolt decals applied to the license plate
Photo courtesy of Andrew Heston

2006 Issue- First year for "all-screened" layout
as even lightning bolts are not applied decals as per
all issues past. This plate was issued to Trooper
Charles M. Gannon for his apprehension of
7 occupied stolen vehicles in 2006
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Older style Blue Max plate.

"Ace of ACEs" Highest recovery record of all OSHP Troopers
for stolen vehicles and on-the-spot suspect apprehension/arrest.

Courtesy of the Bob Bruce Collection

Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter

1980's-1990's issue Blue Max
"Ace of ACEs" Highest recovery record of all OSHP Troopers
for stolen vehicles and on-the-spot suspect apprehension/arrest.
Reflective blue and white on thick sign grade aluminum.
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1990's- circa 2004 - Blue Max.
"Ace of ACEs" Highest recovery record of all OSHP Troopers
for stolen vehicles and on-the-spot suspect apprehension/arrest.
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2005-2010 Blue Max "Ace of ACEs".
Plate stamped on BMV stock with step-border.
This plate was issued to Trooper Charles M. Gannon
for his apprehension of 14 occupied stolen vehicles in 2005.

Picture courtesy of Robert Ward

Current-Style Blue Max "Ace of ACEs"

Picture courtesy of Justin Kleinfelter


TEST/PROTOTYPES

Sometime in the 1990's, the OSHP were testing different designs/ layouts/colors for license plates to be used on OSHP marked vehicles.

The plates shown below are examples of these test/protoype plates, none of which made the "final cut". All these plates were made on authentic Ohio BMV blanks and using Ohio BMV dies, so these are not fakes.


Blue over reflective white. Fully embossed on an upside down Ohio blank. "10-78" for many police agencies is a police communication 10 Code for "EMERGENCY!-Officer needs assistance!". This number is used as the registration number on most of these test plates. 1933 indicates OSHP founding year.
 

Black over reflective white. Fully embossed on an upside down Ohio blank. "10-78" for many police agencies is a police communication 10 Code for "EMERGENCY!-Officer needs assistance!". This number is used as the registration number on most of these test plates. 1933 indicates OSHP founding year.
 


Blue over reflective white. Fully embossed on an upside down Ohio blank. 1933 indicates OSHP founding year.
 

Black over reflective white. Fully embossed on an upside down Ohio blank. 1933 indicates OSHP founding year.
 

Blue over reflective white. Fully embossed on an upside down Ohio blank. "10-78" for many police agencies is a police communication 10 Code for "EMERGENCY!-Officer needs assistance!". This number is used as the registration number on most of these test plates. This version coupled with 1933 (Founding year)
 

White over black. "10-78" for many police agencies is a police communication 10 Code for "EMERGENCY!-Officer needs assistance!". This number is used as the registration number on most of these test plates.


Black over reflective white. No state or agency name. Black numerals are designated for Ohio government vehicles
 

Black over reflective white. 1991-1996 "Heart of it All" issue. Black numerals are designated for Ohio government vehicles.


White over black. Fully embossed on an upside down Ohio blank. "10-78" for many police agencies is a police communication 10 Code for "EMERGENCY!-Officer needs assistance!". This number is used as the registration number on most of these test plates. 1933 indicates OSHP founding year.

Black over refelctive white. 1991-1996 "Heart of it All" issue. Black numerals are designated for Ohio government vehicles. State shape separator.
 

1991-1996 "Heart of it All" issue. ACE in red, state shape separator and 2 in blue. It was speculated that this was supposed to be issued to a two-time ACE award recipient either as a departmental issue or as a personal vehicle "vanity" plate.
 

Red over reflective white. 1991-1996 "Heart of it All" issue. It was speculated that "Page" was the name of an individual working on the test plate project.
 

Black over reflective white. Mock-up of layout for a 1938 OSHP plate. Speculated that it was made for a restored 1938 OSHP patrol car.
 

This plate is from a a program where troopers would ride on
trains to observe motorists going thru RR crossings when
crossing lights and/or gates were in operation. That trooper
would radio to another trooper to stop and cite the motorist
.
Plate courtesy of Carl Evans Collection
Picture courtesy of Al Gaines
 

1996-1997 issue- Personalized for private vehicle use
 

Current frame

Picture courtesy of Edward L. Hale

Current frame
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