(Registry of Motor Vehicles)
A green license plate remains valid unless the reflective paint has faded and, like the tag above, it is no longer visible from 60 feet away.
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
It's not that easy being green, especially these days for old-fashioned Massachusetts license plates with emerald-colored letters and numbers.
A bogus campaign has taken aim at the 25-year-old green motor vehicle tags, sparking a run at Registry of Motor Vehicles offices by hundreds of drivers who wrongly believe they need new plates.
The sham has circulated widely at inspection stations, dealerships, and insurance agencies across the state. It was fueled by a crude fake flier topped with the header "!!ATTENTION!!" that incorrectly told drivers that the green plates were being phased out.
The flier, which the RMV said had gained so much credence that it was handed out last month at a Salem Police Department roll call, warned that motorists who waited until after Dec. 31 to swap the old tags for new plates with red letters and numbers would have to pay $65.
"It's not true. It is just not true," said Registrar Rachel Kaprielian, whose office has been trying to debunk the inexplicable myth for more than a month. "We would have staff meeting and be scratching our heads. Why is this still out there?"
As long as a plate can be read from 60 feet away, it is valid and does not need to be replaced. If any plate, green or red, has faded it can be swapped for a new set of red tags for free.
That hasn't stopped a flood of misinformed drivers from rushing to registry branches to beat the bogus deadline. In Fall River and New Bedford alone, more than 140 people showed up today to turn in their green plates.
"You wonder how rumors get started," said Kaprielian, who has been personally approached about the green plates a half dozen times, including once while she waited in line at the bank. "Once it's out there, you wonder, how you rein it in. It's a big state -- 4.5 million drivers -- which is a lot of people to get the word out to."