Family hopes to cash in on low-numbered plate for good cause

Photo Courtesy: Joseph B. Nadeau | The Pawtucket Times

CHARLESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Low number — scratch that, “low numbah” — Rhode Island license plates have been hot commodities for years. Now that most new Ocean State license plates simply have six numerical digits, anything else is a minor oddity — and a status symbol.

David and Carol Hayes of Charlestown have the status symbol of license plate number 11.

Legend has it that it’s been passed down for almost a hundred years; number 11 was first issued to the Hayes family in the 1920s, and then David’s mother gave the tags to him when he returned from Vietnam in the late 1960s.

“It is a lucky number,” said David. “Lucky for my mom, and it’s been lucky for us too. We have a lot to be thankful for.”

Some states issue fresh tags for every car sold. Here, you can keep your plate even though you may trade up to a new vehicle. Current rules say you can only pass on a license plate to a family member.

But both their children live out of state, so David and Carol have nobody to pass the plate on to.

“Our daughter Googled it, and found out that in the state of Delaware, license plate 11 had been purchased for over $600,000,” said Carol.

So, the Hayeses are hoping to auction off the family heirloom for a pretty penny.

“We felt this was a way that we could do some good with the money that might be gathered from the sale of these plates,” Carol added.

They’ve chosen Welcome House, a homeless shelter in Wakefield, and the Charlestown Animal Shelter.

“They both have specific needs, mostly housing needs,” said David. “If the money is used appropriately, a lot of people, and a lot of animals, will benefit from this.”

Here’s the catch: The family will need a waiver from the state to put the plate up for auction.

David and Carol said they started the process of getting that waiver back in January, but they’re still awaiting a result from the state, and there’s no timetable for the decision.