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View Full Version : License Plate: Are the ZERO (0) and the OH (O) the same character?


olpeculiar
04-06-2009, 09:04 AM
I realize that they are treated as different characters, and states with fancy license plate fonts like Virginia might use two distinctly different characters: But around here in the northeast the two characters are identical in appearance. The only thing that clearly differentiates the two are their contextual placement on the license plate. For example, Massachusetts plates have established patterns such as 401-SOX (three numerals and three letters). In such an example, the second character would be the number zero, while the fifth character would be the letter "OH". Simple, and self-evident.

But there are also personalized license plates. So, a person might intentionally try to confuse the DMV's computer system by getting a personalized plate that reads EIGHT ZERO OH ZERO FIVE OH? To any police office trying to call in the tag number, it would look like...

800050

But the officer would have no idea which 0 was a ZERO and which was an OH.

So, I'm wondering - does the DMV anticipate this problem, and they actually only have one such character in their computers? For example, perhaps their computers automatically equivocate the zero and the "O", to avoid any such problems? I've actually seen a personalized license plate that read "000000". If each character could be a zero or an "O", then that's 64 possible permutations. Even my initial example above could be four different combinations, had it been a personalized plate. So does the DMV take steps to avoid this confusion?

(Okay, so I drive a lot. My internal musings aren't always earth-shatteringly profound.)

Q.E.D.
04-06-2009, 09:59 AM
Around here, letter Os are more squared, while number 0s are more ovoid.

Gary T
04-06-2009, 10:41 AM
I think you'll find that the agencies that issue license plates are aware of this, and have some sort of safeguards to avoid the problem. For example, Washington (http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:SAVS3FV8o5IJ:www.dol.wa.gov/forms/420077.pdf+license+plate+numbers+letters+zero&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us) (state) has a rule that states "Because of similarity, the letters and numbers 1, I or 0 (zero) and O are considered the same." Louisiana (http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:zX9vQDjtFNcJ:www2.dps.state.la.us/Expresslanes/Plate/plate.html+license+plate+numbers+letters+zero&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us) has a rule that states "You may not substitute a number 1 for a letter I or a letter O for a zero on a personalized plate." States don't just automatically grant any request for personalized plate content - as you can imagine, there are any number of things they don't want presented on an official state item. Requests are reviewed by people who will reject those that are problematic for any reason.

Acsenray
04-06-2009, 10:52 AM
Many states, including Virginia and Ohio, don't distinguish between O/0 and I/1 when issuing license plates.

olpeculiar
04-06-2009, 11:01 AM
Gary T - that's the kind of information I was looking for. It seems that my theory was correct: State DsMV will only allow for one or the other, but not both. Perfectly simple, and makes sense. Nice to have confirmation though. Thanks all!

HorseloverFat
04-06-2009, 11:09 AM
Im pretty sure Ive seen plates where the zero had a line through it, thus Im assuming they accept both zero and the letter o. Not sure what state it was.

Scarlett67
04-06-2009, 11:14 AM
The Wisconsin personalized plate form specifies that the letter "oh" and the digit "zero" are the same. This page has a link to the PDF form. (http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/vehicles/personal/persplat.htm)

(I know this because I just got the registration for my shiny new plates in the mail! No plates yet, though. :( )

Q.E.D.
04-06-2009, 11:16 AM
Many states, including Virginia and Ohio, don't distinguish between O/0 and I/1 when issuing license plates.

Sorry, but for Virgnia, that's dead wrong (http://www.grunt.com/images-bs/vaplates.jpg).

Amblydoper
04-06-2009, 11:53 AM
QED, that doesn't prove anything. What is being said is that I's and 1's are interchangeable, as are 0's and O's. "MARINE 1", "MAR1NE 1", "MARINE I" and "MAR1NE I" are all the same license plate.

Q.E.D.
04-06-2009, 12:23 PM
Look, I live here. They are different characters. I even checked the state DMV site and there is nothing to say fifferently.

DSYoungEsq
04-06-2009, 12:28 PM
Look, I live here. They are different characters. I even checked the state DMV site and there is nothing to say fifferently.

As right as you may be, the only way to prove it is to establish that a pair of license plates exist where they are differentiated solely by the existence of a "1" in one and a "i" in the other, and same for "0" and "o".

On the other hand, a statement such as was made by ascenray should be backed up by a citation to the state's DMV rules for issuing personal plates.

Apex Rogers
04-06-2009, 12:56 PM
Look, I live here. They are different characters. I even checked the state DMV site and there is nothing to say fifferently.

I think he was claiming that while the characters appear differently on the plate, they are handled the same according to the state. So if someone registers MARINE 1, then MARINE I, MAR1NE 1, and MAR1NE I would be offlimits. That's how I read his comment, anyway, not sure of the validity of the statement.

Amblydoper
04-06-2009, 01:25 PM
Ok, QED is right about Virgina...

According to here (https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/dmvnet/plate_purchase/select_plate.asp), "MARINE 1", MAR1NE 1" and "MARINE I" are all taken, but "MAR1NE I" is available.

crcoffin88redo
02-24-2012, 12:40 AM
The O is slightly fatter than the 0. Also, there's a special pattern for license plates.
Cars: 1ABC234
Trucks: 1A23456
Some Trucks: 12345A6
It's actually pretty rare that one plate would have a 0 and the other an O in the same place with the other characters the same.

N9IWP
02-24-2012, 06:55 AM
I've seen amatuer radio plates where the zero has a "/" through it (i know someone with both an oh and a zero in thier call) This is Minnesota


Brian

CookingWithGas
02-24-2012, 08:48 AM
In Virginia the characters are clearly different but for record-keeping purposes they are considered the same. So if you have the plate

ZOMBIE

they will not issue another plate that looks like

Z0MB1E

Sicks Ate
02-24-2012, 09:06 AM
On Missouri license plates, O, 0, I and 1 are all issued. Standard plates will not use I, O, or Q, but Missouri will allow these characters on a personalized plate. Ham radio plates do have a slash through the 0 if it is used.

Automated queries on a license plate through Missouri DOR (for example, by law enforcement) will automatically crosscheck O as 0 and I as 1.

On at national; level, license plates entered as stolen or associated with a stolen vehicle in the National Crime Information Center are treated much the same way: NCIC does not distinguish between O and 0 or I and 1. This prevents situations where substituting one character for the other during a query would result in a false negative response.

Acsenray
02-24-2012, 09:37 AM
In Virginia the characters are clearly different but for record-keeping purposes they are considered the same. So if you have the plate

ZOMBIE

they will not issue another plate that looks like

Z0MB1E

Ah, after three years, I am vindicated!

GaryM
02-24-2012, 07:59 PM
I've seen amatuer radio plates where the zero has a "/" through it (i know someone with both an oh and a zero in thier call) This is Minnesota

Also in Missouri and Illinois

Arnold Winkelried
02-24-2012, 08:08 PM
In Virginia the characters are clearly different but for record-keeping purposes they are considered the same. So if you have the plate

ZOMBIE

they will not issue another plate that looks like

Z0MB1EDo you have an explanation for the data presented in post 13 of this thread?

Chronos
02-24-2012, 10:31 PM
The O is slightly fatter than the 0. Also, there's a special pattern for license plates.
Cars: 1ABC234
Trucks: 1A23456
Some Trucks: 12345A6
It's actually pretty rare that one plate would have a 0 and the other an O in the same place with the other characters the same.
This will of course vary from state to state-- Each state makes its own rules.

jnglmassiv
02-25-2012, 02:03 PM
As mentioned, Illinois uses the slash for ham radio calls from zero land (http://www.radioing.com/hamradio/callareas.html).
This would be CO, IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND & SD.
I don't recall seeing that character on any non-amateur plates.

As a radio amateur, I occasionally consider getting the ham plates on my car.
This thread made me check the State of Illinois page (http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/vehicles/license_plate_guide/standard_plates/amateur_radio.html) on this and there's a sentence I don't understand (I've underlined it below). Does anyone know what this means?
Ham Radio license plates are available for amateur radio operators. The license plate number assigned is the call number assigned by the Federal Communications Commission. For law enforcement purposes, the number zero (0) is the designate.

j_sum1
02-27-2012, 01:03 AM
In NZ this problem was eliminated back around 1999/2000 when the two letter four digit sequence was exhausted and the three letter three digit sequence commenced. From that time zeros had a diagonal through them. The digit 1 has never looked like an I on NZ plates.

Colophon
02-27-2012, 07:18 AM
New-style British plates use exactly the same character for 0 and O, but they don't use the letter I (except on Northern Irish plates, I believe, but that's another story).

Because plates follow a specific pattern of letters and numbers, though, you can tell which is which.

E.g. this (http://www.cherished-number-plates.co.uk/cherished-number-plates/0/OO07%20OOL.html) is OO07 OOL.

OO is a letter code indicating Oxford. 07 is the date code indicating March - September 2007. OOL is a random set of three letters.