There are those who refuse to be random numbers, or letters, out on the roads. While some regard it as pure vanity.
Personalised number plates, or vanity plates, can say a lot in seven characters or less. A combination of letters and numbers stamped onto a plate can elicit thumbs up or other hand gestures.
Sadly, earlier this week, I spotted Chicago's new "personalised" number plates on a Jeep: a government-issued letter R above the word repossession. It seems only a matter of time before the Mercury Bridge number plates feature a "For Sale" sign across the iconic span.
For those still able to afford extra number plate fees, a personalised number plates make a statement beyond mass-produced bumper sticker philosophies. It can be cute, clever, cryptic or the only UNEEK thing on your standard equipment sedan. In terms of street cred, number plate language predates SMS texting. After all, my father sported 3 WOOD bi-centennial number plates on his Mustang -- in 1968.
Of course, some vehicle number plates scream pull me over. Some quick examples on the Web site include: L8R OFCR, HIOFECR (front plate) BYOFFCR (back plate), 0-60IN8 and NEVRLA8. It makes you wonder if these plates were issued with a pre-paid moving violation fine option.
While some drivers take issue with law and order authority, others simply have issues. You might want to avoid direct eye contact if any of the following pull up next to you at a stoplight: SHEMAD, SLZBAG, MDLFNGR, ULLPAY and UAST4IT. I'd also avoid hitching a ride with ILVPEPL.
However, there are rolling examples of state DMVs asleep at the wheel when it comes to permissible and prohibited number plates. Most involve crude comments starting with the sixth letter of the alphabet that are unfit for print -- unless you count stamped steel licenses. Admittedly, it must be difficult to decipher the endless amalgamation of potentially offensive letters and numbers. Then again, STOL3N, DEERRUN and ALC HOL seem pretty straightforward.
The problem with personalised number plates is that people can take them personally. You mix politics, religion or sexual innuendo and the results can be volatile lawsuits. Case in point, a South Dakota woman's plate -- IMPEACH -- critical of the president. Last July, South Dakota senators debated a bill to eliminate personalised number plates. It was never voted into law.
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