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October 21st, 2004
02:41 pm
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Random thought
Something that occurred to me after seeing an odd license plate on my way to work.

Here in California, the standard -- non-customized -- license plate for cars consists of one digit, three letters, and three digits. A string like 1ABC123.

After Sept. 11, 2001, what did the states do with plates like 4OBL911?

That string of characters was meaningless before the terror attack. It was probably even on someone's car. But afterward, you can probably guess (especially if you think about the acronym for a moment) that it, and a number of other similar plates, could be found terribly offensive.

Do agencies have some sort of recall provision for random plates that through odd circumstance become controversial?

N.b.: I envy the lucky person randomly assigned the plate 1AML337.

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From:whiffert
Date:October 22nd, 2004 12:26 am (UTC)

Offensive plates

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I would think that if you had been issued a plate that suddenly gained an offensive connotation, you would not have to give it up, but you would be offered a free change. That is not always the case though, as many drivers have been issued plates with 666 on them and they had to fight in court to get a new number.

In the case of an unissued number, they could certainly ban its use. With a 3 letter string in it, there are several combinations that would be disallowed (i.e. ASS)

Someone must have a list of improper letter combos out there somewhere ;) Maybe even a list for words that phone numbers might spell out, like 328-7448 ;)
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From:arethinn
Date:October 22nd, 2004 01:22 am (UTC)

Re: Offensive plates

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"867-5309!"....

Seriously tho, I have somewhere-on-the-net seen a list of California-unacceptable custom plates. Some of them I couldn't fathom - I was going "oookay, so what is offensive/suggestive/etc about this??" - but I guess someone must know or have complained about it, or it would never have made the list. When you submit a request for a custom plate, they go over it somehow to determine if it is acceptable or not (not sure if a person does this, or if it is just compared to a computer database). They certainly do have a "banned" list.

No idea what they do with plates that gain an offensive connotation. My guess would be "nothing", given the nature of bureaucracy.
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From:r_caton
Date:October 22nd, 2004 10:42 am (UTC)

Re: Offensive plates

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In the UK there is a PEN 1 S and a PEN 15 which have probably been doctored to look the same. I've seen COW on a plate....
These days the DVLA hangs on to saleable combos and sells them to its own profit instead of some lucky guy getting a bonus....
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 22nd, 2004 03:34 am (UTC)

Re: Offensive plates

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FAT-PIG-U?

(Just kidding; I know what it really means.) :}
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From:arethinn
Date:October 22nd, 2004 01:24 am (UTC)
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N.b.: I envy the lucky person randomly assigned the plate 1AML337.

One of the network techs where I work has 5FFF777. I queried him about it one day (since it seemed too regular to be random) and he confirmed that it was, indeed, random. The plate is for a Prius. Somehow this seems proper, even if it doesn't mean anything (even in hex).
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From:tyraelis
Date:October 22nd, 2004 11:50 am (UTC)
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Yeah, the 1AML337 plate would be worthy of stealing/duplicating. Get a friend in the DMV, get them to owe you a favor, then ask them to look up the person and their address of the L337 owner.
From:silussa
Date:October 23rd, 2004 07:53 am (UTC)
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Actually, here in Florida if a plate suddenly gets caught as offensive and triggers a complaint, it does get a free swap if it's a normal plate. I know the personalized plates get recalled, but I'm not sure if there is a free exchange....probably.

People don't tend to notice plates, though; I've only had one person ask about "SILUSSA" on mine.

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