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Problems with new Ontario license plates at the border

Posted at 6:44 PM, Feb 24, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The new Ontario license plate numbers are nearly invisible at night. The plates are causing some problems at border crossings too.

Supervisory CBP officer Michael Taylor said U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is aware that some of the new Ontario license plates cannot be read by the automatic license plate readers at the border crossings. He said when a machine can't read a license plate officers type in the number manually off of the machine's picture. Usually they don't have to leave the booth. He said the new Ontario plates are not affecting wait times because there has only seen a handful at the border in recent weeks.

"The time it takes an officer to correct a license plate is minimal, so right now we're not seeing any changes," Taylor said. "But if the number increases, where they have to correct every license plate from Ontario crossing, it could possibly impose on the wait times."

Ontario just rolled out the plates this month. According to CTV, the plates are already causing enough trouble to be recalled. Ontario officials said revised plates will hit the road soon.

"We're working collaboratively with all of our key stakeholders as well as 3M to deliver an enhanced product in the coming weeks," said Lisa Thompson, Ontario Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

Jim Blake of St. Catherine's has the traditional white and blue plates. He crosses the border a couple of times a month to go grocery shopping.

"I go to Wegman's or Sam's Club, or wherever my wife wants to go," Blake said.

For Canadians like him who spend their money at Western New York businesses, they hope the new license plates don't become a road block to their travels. Because if the line at the border is too long, "I turn around and go home," said Blake.

New York State had it's own "plate gate" in the fall. Governor Andrew Cuomo rolled in reverse on plans that would mandate New Yorkers to replace license plates that were more than 10 years old.