McAuliffe gives Va. drivers 120 days to change Confederate flag license plates

Exclusively on FOX 5 News Morning Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said that the Confederate flag is no longer allowed on any state plates. He also said that people will have to change their plates within four months.

This is part of a sweeping movement around the country since the tragic Charleston church shooting to get the battlefield flag removed from both government buildings and stores.

"In the next 120 days, every license plate in the commonwealth with the Confederate flag will be eliminated," Gov. McAuliffe told FOX 5.

McAuliffe doesn't need the legislature to make this decision for one license plate. But what if drivers refuse?

"Then they won't have a license plate," he said.

Virginia lets you choose from hundreds of license plates that support various causes, schools and organizations. But now, just one license plate -- Sons of the Confederate Veterans -- cannot be ordered.

The plate has the organization's logo on it, which has the Confederate battle flag in the center. It is only available to the group's members.

"We will reach out today to the Sons of the Confederacy and we will give them two to three weeks to come up with a new design," said McAuliffe. "If they don't, then we'll go ahead without the flag on the license plate."

J.T. McConnell is a member of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. He has their sticker on his company's truck bumper. He didn't get the license plate because it wouldn't fit his whole personalized letters on it.

"We're not a hate group," he said. "We're a historical group. Our focus is on the heritage of our southern ancestors -- Confederate ancestors."

McConnell said the flag, which was carried in battle during the Civil War, is not about racism or slavery. The governor sees it differently.

"For so many people, it is so hurtful, it is hateful to so many people," said Gov. McAuliffe. "That should not be on a state-issued license plate."

McConnell said this has nothing to do with the horrific crime in Charleston.

"This kid, he is not affiliated with the Sons of Confederate Veterans," said McConnell. "He was not a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. We don't approve of this type of tactics. We're very sympathetic towards those folks who were murdered and they have our deepest sympathy."

A Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman said it will take a few months for the new tags to be designed and produced. The DMV will mail the new plates to the members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to put on their cars.

We asked the governor and the DMV whether people can keep their Confederate flag logo plates as souvenirs, but they have not decided on that yet.