Louisiana employed annual license plates from 1915 through 1963, when new two-year 1964-1965 steel plates were manufactured at Angola. The one prior exception was 1943, when a windshield sticker renewed the 1942 plates for a second year. Between 1963 and In 1973, steel plates were used in two year cycles only on the rear. The 68/69 through 72/73 were galanized, with unpainted backs. In 1973, rear "Bayou State" aluminum plates were manufactured at Angola on aluminum stock. The initial production run had the dates "74 BAYOU STATE 75" on the top and the state name at the bottom. As a result of this, the state moved from a two year plate replacement cycle to its first permanent registration system. Ultimately the new aluminum plates were to be used, with variations, through 1995, and in some cases longer (2007) as old plates attritted from cars still on the road.
A new feature of the 1963-1995 system was a state police troop designator letter as part of the registration number. This continued on the permanent series. Rolling changes took place over the years, but were only given to new registrants. Old registrations were simply renewed for two more years and kept their old plates, resulting in many of them being used for decades. As further explained below, the Troop E area was headquartered at Alexandria. When US Highway 71 was upgraded through the city as Interstate 49, a new LSP headquarters building was constructed not far from the original site.
In 1992, the system was supplemented with AAA-000 series "lipstick" plates, again going to some new registrants. They initially had the state police letter on a slap-on sticker. The stickers were discontinued 1995-1997. The two programs coexisted together until the end of 2007.
Only new registrants benefited from rolling production changes in their license plates after 1973. A 1977 sticker covered the renewal for the years 1976-1977. For 1978-1981 renewals, both year and month stickers were seen. It was during the 1978-1980 period that staggered registration was implemented, by short-cycling and pro-rating some plates. After the 1982 expiration, only a single sticker was commonly used, affixed in the lower right hand corner. Typically it had a large year date with a smaller month imprint. Older plates continued to be revalidated with stickers.
The two year system used previously 1963-1972 had begun over again each two year cycle at 1E001. Previously, the largest number of plates sold was on the 1972-73 series, when 106,000 were sold. Each cycle ended up with whatever the highest number of plates sold happened to be. Over the lifetime of the permanent system, troop E plate numbers reached 405E--- by 1997.
State police troop districts were retained on the 1973 system, but numbering never again returned to 1E001. Registrations were cumulative and plate numbers never repeated again. Alexandria is the largest city and, with two additions from other dissolved troops over the years, the troop district have remained fairly constant since inception of the licensing system in 1963. Sabine and Vernon Parishes were merged in after 1988, and Avoylles Parish was taken away to be part of Troop K in 1969, only to be returned in 1988 when Troop K was decomissioned.
"Bayou State" was on the original dated "74-75" allotments, but starting in 1976, the date was removed on newly made plates. The logo was changed back to "Sportsman's Paradise" around 1978 for new registrants. So there can be three major varieties of 1973-83 plates given out to new registrants. In the E district, the undated series started at 122E---, and the switch back to Sportsman's Paradise occurred at 155E.
The original color for the entire series was black on neutral, but in October 1983 it changed to blue when a World's Fair "semi-graphic" series was issued to new registrants so as to advertise and promote the fair held in New Orleans. This lasted for about a year. If you moved into the state you got one, or if you were an existing resident adding an additional vehicle or buying a new one, you got one. Due to quirks in the registration cycles, most dated 1984 Worlds Fair plates were issued with 86 or later expiration stickers on them. In troop E, the worlds fair number block was 232E-250E---/
Blue color continued when generic plates returned. This generally happened when the supply of World's Fair plates ran out. The generic blue number block in troop E was 250E-312E. Unfortunately, a "Reagan Recession" that had begun in 1981, morphed into a Louisiana-specific economic breakdown when oil prices plummeted to as low as $10 a barrel. It got so bad in Louisiana that in order to raise cash, license plates were put on a four year cycle in 1987,1988, and 1989. Residents had to pay four years up front for their new plate sticker! Renewals of older plates in 1987 generally got a 1991-expire sticker, and in 1988 they received a 1992-expire sticker, and so forth. There are not a whole lot of these new-registrant plates, relative to other years.
After 1988, many new registrants also started receiving a graphic "USA" plate with 1992 expiration stickers as the stocks of blue plates ran out. This started with the number block 312E---. There are two major varieties of the USA plate, with the sticker navel on the lower left being the older style. Eventually the sticker navel was shifted to the lower right corner. Troop E is one of the lesser populated, but large in its geographic area. It is today in State Police coastal Region III with troops F and G, comprising the northern part of Louisiana. It was not hit as hard as south Louisiana by the 1980's economic collapse, but nevertheless, auto license plate sales were badly depressed.
Three types of 1973-83, the World's Fair semi-graphic, the generic blues, and the "USA" graphic all remained valid for a number of years, even long after new registrants started receiving "AAA-000" style "lipstick" plates after 1992. The older types were supposed to have all been cancelled out after 2005 when the graphic brown pelican plate became the new standard. Even today, however, some of the old style plates may turn up on cars from time to time. The former 5-6 or 7 character "troop" plates comprised one registration system, which ran parallel with the new "3x3" alpha-numeric for many years. The "lipstick" series has remained Louisiana's basic plate now for 30+ years, although there have been three breaks for special short-term celebratory issues, the Louisiana Purchase bicentennial, the bicentennial of statehood ("200 years") and the bicentennial of the battle of New Orleans.
The state police troop letter was officially part of the registration number on passenger car plates from late 1963 until around the end of 1997. Between 1997 and 2007 some vestiges remained, such as the small stickers, but the troop designator was finally purged from the registration number. And most 20-30 year old cars have long since gone to scrap.
During the transition period, the two systems ostensibly ran in parallel, although police officers and others seeking to look up the old numbers often had difficulty. Louisiana went from a seven character auto registration system back to a six character system. Technically, the only remaining troop-designated license plates today should be the year of manufacture series issued in lieu of antique auto tags to vintage vehicles.
The end of the first series AAA-ZZZ was reached in 2015 or 2016. At that time a reverse format was employed, ###-AAA, which by mid-2022 had reached ###-FFA (with 2024 stickers). Serial numbers on stickers have had little known geographical significance over the years. Since 2002 the serial numbers printed on the sticker generally are "smart" and coded to match the registration of the accompanying plate.
The Louisiana State Police has existed under one name or another since 1922. As radio dispatching became the norm, the posts were set up so that they would be in radio range of each other. Once statewide networks were upgraded, and as the interstate highway system cut travel times, some of the posts were obsoleted. Others were eliminated in budget cuts. LSP has been reorganized many times over its history.
Current Troop E territory since 1963 consisted of Catahoula, Concordia, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Grant, Winn, and Rapides Parishes, the latter being the most populous with Alexandria as the largest city. Avoylles Parish, put into troop K at Opelousas in 1969 in a territory split, was regained in 1988 when K was dissolved as a result of the economic depression. Pointe Coupee Parish went back to Troop A at that time, and the rest of K merged into the expanding troop I. After troop H at Leesville was also shut down in 1988, two new parishes were taken from it, and shifted to Troop E, Vernon and Sabine.
Because of the economic downturn in Louisiana, license plates went to that four year registration cycle during 1987-1988, so those plates that happened to be issued or renewed during the period of the transition would likely have gotten expiration stickers of 1991 and later. Vernon and Sabine Parishes had H plates 1963 through 1988 and E plates to any new registrants in 1988 or later.
There was a troop N at Crowley in southern Louisiana which was decomissioned in 1969, (two parishes moved into Troop I) as well as a troop O that existed for only about a year in northern Louisiana. Troops H, K, and M also came and went over the decades, and Troop C shifted east, and there have been other smaller territory swaps as well. N has been reactivated from time to time to handle Mardi Gras and some emergency situations in the New Orleans area, especially the French Quarter. A special tax assessment in that part of Orleans Parish paid for much of the additional costs. "N" plates were issued across Troop B territory after the original million combinations were exhausted in the New Orleans area. This happened prior to the World's Fair, so there are no "B" plates for that special issue.
Today, there are three geographic regions in the Louisiana State Police organization. During the period that license places were demarkated with state police troop letters, there was also the X used to designate mailouts from Baton Rouge. H replaced it after 999X999. Mailouts took on a significant presence in the 1980s, because of the closure of revenue office branches. Eventually the state addressed this issue by allowing private companies to set up local tag and title commission operations in strip malls, where registrants could conduct walk-in business. Today a great deal of the state OMV's business is handled by contract offices.
After 1992, Louisiana began the current "lipstick" series with unbordered AAA-000 format to new registrations (only). Initially most of these had the state police troop of issuance on a small paste-on sticker in the lower left sticker navel. The practice was discontinued after 1997. Early issues did not have a raised border around the plate. Borders were added for evidently all plates somewhere in the CAA-CZZ series, but there are also some bordered plates in the A and B previx groups. Some early batches of the borderless variety also had depressed lower left navel, but not all troop districts apparently received this type.
By late 2004 or early 2005, the standard for new registrants became a "brown pelican" version of the "lipstick" plate, and this is now Louisiana's statewide standard issue by law. Older plates were supposed to have been replaced by 2007.
Brown pelicans sequentially depleted the A-Z prefixes by 2015 or early 2016 (Q and U were skipped). There were three brief interruptions to the brown pelican series, again for new residents only, where for a period some time a commemoration was going on. These have been, thus far, for the Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial (some K, L, and some M prefixes), the statehood bicentennial (some V and W prefixes), and the bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans (some X Y and Z prefixes). On the statehood plate, a midcourse adjustment was made in the size of the Louisiana state outline map on the left side of the plate. With respect to the Battle series, there was also a minor variation as the website was changed to have a capital T in "Travel." Note that on all three subvarients, (Purchase, 200 Years, and Battle), Sportsman's Paradise was temporarily dropped (first times since 1978). Between the gaps in the three special commemoratives, regular brown pelican plates have filled in.
Each time, after the end of the celebratory period, the state has so far returned to the standard plate. After the Louisiana Purchase period, it was to the standard lipstick plate in the N prefixes. After the "200 Years" plate, it was in the W's. After the "Battle" plate, it was in the Z's.
There has not been as much geograpical significance to the way that random number blocks have been assigned or mailed out since 2007. When a revenue office or a contract office is running out of plates, a new batch is ordered. Other than more plates being issued in parts of the state where the economy happens to be more robust, the issuance of new plates has been hit or miss. After Katrina, the population of the state actually dropped for the 2010 and 2020 census enumerations (even though for 2010 some displaced residents were still allowed to be tabulated in Louisiana). Proportionately, more plates have been sold in the Troop A and L areas of the Florida Parishes, as many residents re-located to higher ground.
During late 2015 or early 2016 Louisiana reached the end of the ZZZ-999 series across the state, and flipped to an 001-AAA format on the pelican plate. A few had 2017 stickers in the A series, but most expired in 2018. As of June 2018, most of the state was receiving plates in the 999-CCC format with the 2020 expiration sticker. There had been some talk of a general issue plate for the 300th Anniversary of the founding of New Orleans, but this did not happen. Instead, a specialty plate was created for that purpose. As of mid 2023, "GIB" series plates were being issued in the reverse 3x3 format (with 2025 expiration stickers).
After 30+ years and three minor sub variants, the Lipstick plate in Louisiana continues...some early ones may now qualify for "year of manufacture" issiance onto vintage vehicles as those from the last century become collectors items.