(a) Any veteran, as defined in Section 31-5-1, who is a resident of this state and who is suffering a physical disability which requires that any motor vehicle he or she operates be equipped with special mechanical control devices or whose physical disability exceeds 50 percent, upon application accompanied by proof of eligibility to the judge of probate of the county for the special license plates provided herein, as may be prescribed by the State Department of Revenue, and upon payment of five dollars ($5), unless exempted from the payment of such fee by law, shall be issued license plates, by the judge of probate as provided by law, for private or pleasure motor vehicles, upon which, in lieu of the number now prescribed by law shall be inscribed in legible letters the words, "Disabled Veteran," and shall designate the branch of service and an identifying number as prescribed by the State Department of Revenue. The plates shall not be transferable. The fee established by this section shall be in lieu of the regular license fee now required for motor vehicles and shall be used to defray the cost of issuing the distinctive license plates.
(b) In lieu of applying the registration fee of five dollars ($5) to the disabled veteran license plate category provided for in subsection (a), the registration fee may be applied to any license plate category in which the disabled veteran qualifies to obtain a license plate. Any additional fee required for a plate from a distinctive or personalized license plate category shall still be required in order to obtain the plate.