Censored License Plates?

Does the government censor license plates so as not to offend people?

There’s the pay license plates to get what you want it to say on it and there’s the “natural” license plate you get when you get a car.

Often times riding down the road you’ll see non-pay plates with things like:

ARM 3453
BEN 1343
BOO 5431
ART 1354
but one day i saw a license plate that said “AZZ 3426” and it got me thinking do they censor profane words on plates? Should they? Shouldn’t they? (i’m not implying azz is profane)

(i’m speaking about American plates)

For a whole lot of fun stuff about license plates (and their possible offensiveness), check out this page at The Smoking Gun: The ASSORGY Story. When you put a big picture of an orange in the middle, even a seemingly inoffensive license plate number like A55 RGY can be misconstrued.

That page also has links to “red lists” and various citizens’ complaints about vanity license plates in Florida, New York, Wisconsin and Washington.

I saw a Maryland plate on the Capital Beltway once that said


Which was rather innocuous until I saw it in my rearview mirror.

There was a guy in California who had UKFAUYA for a while before the DMV took it back. He insisted it stood for something like United Kids For A United Young America. No one bought it.

Well, call me dense, but what on earth is the problem with “UKFAUYA”?

UKFAUYA = semi-Pig Latin???

I have an aquaintance in California that had the Italian phrase for “What the fuck” on his plate. Then someone figured it out, or someone complained, and DMV pulled it. My guess would be that DMV has personalized plates reviewed before they are issued, but odds are that these people aren’t going to catch every deragotory plate that comes through.

Gov’t issued plates in California are a random assortment of letters and numbers (not the three letter and then three numbers as in NJ and apparently OH, based on bhb’s post). I’m sure they have some combinations that are a no no, but I doubt the thousands [gross underestimate] of new plates that are issued every year in each state are reviewed very closely, so you could easlily get an AZZ in there (unless that’s on the list, of course!).

Think pig latin.

I saw one with BAFONGOO on it.Obviously the censors didn’t know pidgin italian.

I can’t believe some people have so much time on their hands as to actually write letters to the D.O.T. to complain about a stupid license plate they don’t like (cops excluded. They have to do this)

Not helping. Sure, I can see how there’s sorta the right sounds in there to be f- , but only if you pronounce the vowels kinda funny.

The Baltimore Sun (I think it was) actually ran an article about the woman at the DMV whose job it was to review requests, so such a person does exist…

Personally, while I realize it’s within state rights to regulate this sort of thing, it seems pretty moronic to me.

I don’t know if this helps, but personalized license plate censoring goes back a long way. I recall reading an article in Playboy, ca. 1983, about a fellow who indignantly fought (and lost) to keep his Porsche’s personalized plate, which read, “SMEGMA.” I think the guy was in Massachusetts.

Yes, even as a fourteen year old boy, I was reading Playboy for the articles.

The state of Missouri recently lost a court challenge where they tried to get a woman to give back her personalized plates that read “ARYAN-1.” She claimed it was not anti-semitic.

Uck-fay ou-yay.

DARE officer once told the entire class that someone has 4KINGA as he was a card player of sorts, apparebtly the DMV let this one slide. Granted I was about the only one in the class to laugh :smiley:

I have also seen a couple of “*** 666” licence plates too - I’m suprised no one has complained about those!

IIRC, A few years ago there was a story in the Washington Post about someone who complained to the DMV about a personalized license plate she saw. She felt that a BMW with the plate ISL CRK was a crack dealer flaunting his wealth and thumbing his nose at law-abiding society. Made a huge stink of it.

Turned out the guy just had some property on Island Creek he was proud of.

In the state of NH, our DMV has an employee who reviews vanity plate applications for crass or obscene language. This has been going on since at least the mid 1970s. In most states, I believe the state reserves the right to recall any plate at any time for any reason. Low numbered plates are confiscated in MA all the time.

Anyway, I was once stopped by a woman who saw my license plate and wanted to know more about my acting troupe. I had no idea what she was talking about as I had an obviously generic plate “ACT486”.

There was actually a thread related to this in Great Debates a couple of months ago.

Ok, I see that now. Quite a stretch, though. You have to pronounce some vowels, but not others. Which is not to say that it wasn’t what that meant, but man…

Another rearview mirror one I’ve heard of: 3M TA3. In the dim and distant foggy reaches of my memory, ISTR a complaint brought against someone who had OUI-OUI, because somebody thought it sounded like a euphamism for urination. :rolleyes:

There’s a case being heard on this issue now in Oregon(at least, I haven’t heard if there’s been a verdict.)

News Story

This has interesting implications- depending on the ruling, it could eliminate all screening or eliminate vanity plates… (in Oregon, of course)