(a) The owner of any vehicle designated as a 1976 year model vehicle or earlier qualified to receive a vintage vehicle license plate, upon application to the county license plate issuing official, in lieu of receiving the vintage vehicle license plate, may request to register an original Alabama license plate, 1976 or previous, including a restored or refurbished Alabama license plate, issued in the model year as designated by the manufacturer of the vehicle, of a type license plate that would have been issued to that category vehicle. Subject to the restrictions herein provided, the license plate issuing official shall issue a permanent vintage vehicle validation decal and attach the decal to an appropriate location on the lower portion of the original Alabama license plate. The issuing official shall also issue a registration receipt to be maintained within the vehicle and presented to law enforcement upon request. The issuing official shall collect the fee authorized under subsection (b) of Section 40-12-290 when issuing a vintage vehicle validation decal and the funds shall be distributed in the same manner as other fees collected for the issuance of vintage vehicle license plates. The issuing official shall be entitled to the issuance fee provided under Section 40-12-271.
(b) The owner requesting the registration of an original Alabama license plate shall present the license plate to the issuing official for examination, and, upon approval, issuance. In examining the license plate, the issuing official shall check the legibility and condition of the license plate and shall ascertain if the original Alabama license plate would have been properly issued to the category of vehicle for which registration is being currently requested.
(c) In the event the owner of a vehicle has applied for and is currently displaying a vintage vehicle license plate and elects to obtain a registration for an original Alabama license plate as herein provided, the owner shall surrender the vintage vehicle license plate at the time of registration and shall not receive a credit for fees previously paid.
(d) This division shall otherwise be applicable to registrants electing to register as herein provided, including the ad valorem tax exemption authorized in Section 40-12-293.
(e) In the event the original Alabama license plate with a vintage vehicle validation decal is lost or stolen, the owner may elect to register another original Alabama license plate to the vehicle through the county license plate issuing official and pay the replacement fee as provided under subsection (b) of Section 40-12-265. If the validation decal only is lost or stolen, a replacement vintage vehicle validation decal may be issued.
(f) In the event front and rear original Alabama license plates were issued, only one original Alabama license plate shall be authorized for display on the rear of the vehicle.
(g) In the event that a vehicle owner requests the registration of a license plate number that is identical to a previously issued registration issued under this section, the license plate issuing official shall not approve the requested registration, and, if in the event duplicate registrations are issued, the department shall notify the vehicle owner with the most recent date registration that his or her registration is invalid and void, and the owner shall promptly surrender the vintage vehicle validation decal to the issuing official, and may request a subsequent registration of another original Alabama license plate upon payment of the transfer fee.