Louisiana always had annual license plates from 1915 until 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. Between 1963 and In 1973, steel plates were used in two year cycles only on the rear. 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 allotments, but the logo was changed back to "Sportsman's Paradise" around 1980 for new registrants. In some parts of Louisiana, the 74-75 dates were removed from new stock produced after 1978. So there can be several varieties in the early years of the 1973-84 plates given out to new registrants. In the E district, the undated plates began 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 series was issued to new registrants so as to advertise and promote the fair held in New Orleans. This series lasted for about a year, and again it only went to new registrants. 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 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, the national "Reagan Recession" that had begun in 1981, morphed into a Louisiana-specific economic breakdown when oil prices plummeted to as low as $10 a barral. 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.
In 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.
All of these types remained valid for a number of years, even long after new registrants started receiving "AAA-000" style "lipstick" plates in 1994. They 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 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.
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 vestigages remained, such as the small stickers, but the troop designator was finally purged from the registration number. 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 is also being reached in 2015. Serial numbers on stickers have had little known geographical significance over the years. Since 2002 the serial numbers printed on the sticker generally are coded to match the registration of the accompanying plate.
The Louisiana State Police has been reorganized many times over its history. The 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, was put into troop K at Opelousas in 1969 in a territory split, and then regained in 1988 when K was dissolved as a result of the economic depression two decades later. Pointe Coupee Parish went back to Troop A at that time, and the rest were 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, 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. N has been reactivated briefly a couple of times to handle Mardi Gras and some emergency situations in the New Orleans area, and troop N plates were issued in Troop B after the original million combinations were exhausted in the New Orleans area. Higher number H plates were issued statewide once the "X" mailout series was exhausted.
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.
In 1992, Louisiana began supplementing its license plate series with unbordered AAA-000 series "Lipstick" plates to new registrations. Initially 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, like the "USA" series, 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 AAA-AAZ and BAA-BZZ groups. Some early batches also had depressed lower left navel variations, but not all troop districts apparently received this type. By 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.
The "AAA-000" series of brown pelicans was depleted after the Z prefixes were used up (Q and U were skipped). There have been three brief interruptions to the brown pelican series, again for new residents only, where for a period some time of commemoration was going on. These have been, thus far, for the Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial (some K, L, and M prefixes), the statehood bicentennial (some V and W and X 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 of New Orleans series, there is also a minor variation as the website was changed to have a capital T in "Travel." Note that also on this series, the Sportsman's Paradise logo was temporarily dropped for the first time since the "Bayou State" years.
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 M-N prefixes. Thereafter it has always been to the standard brown pelicans. 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.
During late 2015 Louisiana reached the end of the ZZZ-999 series, 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.