by Ben Radstein, staff reporter

Indiana plateIndiana motorists have been stopped by police scores of times when traveling in other states. Are people from Indiana speeding, weaving in traffic and committing other moving violations more often than drivers from other states? Does the rest of the country have it in for Hoosiers? No. Indiana's newest license plates are made of plastic, and all other states are still using metal. Hoosiers are routinely accused of trying to pass off novelty plates as the genuine article.

"I took a trip to Alabama to play golf on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail," said John Pike, "and was stopped no less than three times. I thought Deputy Buford who stopped me just outside of Birmingham was going to beat me or something." Pike explained that Buford's first words were, "You ain't foolin' no one with that toy license plate, boy!" He was certain that there was no state issuing plastic ones, and he thought the bar code at the bottom especially made it look "store-bought". Pike was eventually able to convince the sheriff's deputy to check the plate number, instead of hauling him to the county courthouse, and impounding his 2003 Honda Odyssey. He was then free to go. Indiana residents traveling in Iowa, Michigan, Kansas, Pennsylvania and many other places tell similar stories.

Hank Kuhn of South Bend was visiting relatives in Philadelphia when a Pennsylvania state trooper stopped him. "I was sure that he was joking, you know, just having a little fun with the tourists, when he said I had a fake license plate, so I joked back. I asked him if Pennsylvania is still called The Keystone State, he said yes. I then said, and you are a Pennsylvania State Policeman, right? he said yes. Then I said, so I guess that makes you a keystone cop? It turned out he hadn't been joking, and didn't find that funny at all. He arrested me, and took me to his precinct, only to be informed that my plate was genuine. They let me go with only a warning that my keystone cop joke was not funny."

original plateThis is not the first controversy over Indiana's new plate design. They had a contest to design the state's new plate, and the winning entry had the words, "Back Home Again", the opening line from the state song, instead of the web address. Hoosiers were angry when a bureaucrat changed it without even asking the people who voted to choose the new design. Across the state, the plate is reviled. Many are purchasing stickers to put the motto back where they feel it belongs, but nothing they do can turn the fake-looking plastic into genuine-looking metal.