(a) Motor vehicles owned and used by the state, a county, or a municipality of this state shall not be subject to the payment of license taxes levied, but shall display permanent license plates. Any agency which obtains or possesses a vehicle through a lease-purchase or an installment-sales agreement with an option to buy shall be considered as owning the vehicle for purposes of this section. The purchasing agent or other officer of the state, county, or municipality, shall apply to the Department of Revenue giving the make, type, model, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle or vehicles owned and used by the state, county, or municipality, together with any other information the department may require, which shall be furnished under oath by the applying officer. If upon examination the application appears correct to the department, it shall issue, to be placed on the motor vehicles, the number of license plates, to be used on no other vehicle than that for which issued. State license plates shall have the letter "S" and the registration number printed thereon, county license plates shall have the word "county" and the registration numbers, and municipal license plates shall have the word "municipal" and the registration number printed thereon. License plates on any vehicle owned by a municipal corporation or a municipal board shall have "PUD", public utility department, and the registration number printed thereon. All replacement license plates issued for the vehicles shall be similarly printed or marked. The motor vehicle shall be used exclusively in the governmental or corporate functions of the state, county, or municipality to which issued.
(b) Any person who operates a motor vehicle owned or used by the state or any county or municipality thereof with an improper license plate or without a license plate thereon shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished as prescribed by law.
(c) The department may issue permanent license plates for vehicles owned by the United States or any agency thereof which have been loaned to the state or a county or municipality of this state, or to a public agency, including, but not limited to, a volunteer fire department, if the state, county, municipality, or public agency desires to obtain license plates to operate the vehicle on the streets and highways of this state. The license plates shall have words indicating that the vehicle is on loan from the federal government and a registration number. Vehicles displaying these license plates shall be used in accordance with the stipulations wherein the vehicle was loaned to the receiving agency. The license plates may be issued by the department upon application by the state, county, municipality, public corporation, or agency receiving and using the vehicles. Upon return of the vehicle to the United States agency, the license plate shall be removed, and may be transferred by the department to another vehicle loaned by the United States and used by the governmental entity or agency. The department shall promulgate rules and regulations as necessary to implement this subsection.
(d) The department may issue permanent license plates for vehicles owned by volunteer fire departments. The license plates shall have words indicating that the vehicle is owned by a volunteer fire department and a registration number. Vehicles displaying these license plates shall be used in accordance with the stipulations provided by law for such vehicles. The license plates may be issued by the department upon application by a volunteer fire department. The vehicle shall be used exclusively for volunteer fire department purposes. The department shall promulgate rules and regulations as necessary to implement this subsection.
(e) Registration fees for all license plates provided for in this section shall be determined by the department and may not exceed the fees for standard passenger plates as provided for in Sections 40-12-242 and 40-12-273. The department shall collect an issuance fee at the time of registration for all license plates provided for in this section in the amount as provided for in Section 40-12-271.
(f) In the event a license plate provided for in this section becomes so mutilated as to make it illegible, the governmental entity or volunteer fire department shall file an application with the Department of Revenue setting forth the fact that the plate has been lost, mutilated, or destroyed. The Department of Revenue shall issue a replacement license plate upon payment of the replacement fee provided for in Section 40-12-265 and the surrender of the tag.
(g) When a governmental entity or volunteer fire department sells, trades, or otherwise disposes of a motor vehicle, the license plate shall be removed from the vehicle and retained. The plate may be transferred to another vehicle purchased or otherwise acquired by the governmental entity or volunteer fire department pursuant to Section 40-12-260 and upon payment of the fee provided for therein.
(h) All fees associated with governmental and volunteer fire department license plates shall be retained by the Department of Revenue to cover the costs to administer this section.