From the current issue of Car and Driver comes an interesting piece on personalized license plates, and how they are reviewed for suitability. In particular, it focuses on the process exemplified by the Word Committee, which is a board created by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles tasked with approving custom plates.

Many other states have similar boards or processes, but VA's is said to be one of the most thorough. C/D spoke with Word Committee member Melanie Stokes to get a better understanding how their system works. The WC is made up of 20 DMV employees with a mix of diverse ethnic backgrounds and ages. The group meets once a month to review plate applications that have been deemed questionable or offensive. Apparently, the board does not use resources like Google or Urban Dictionary, claiming that their decisions are made "based on what a reasonable person would think when seeing the plate."

It should be noted that, in light of their efforts, the plate "EATTHE" was initially deemed acceptable on a special charity plate which featured "Kids First" at the bottom. The plate gained national attention, only to later be recalled. The clever plate proves that no matter how thorough the efforts, some creatively questionable plates will slip through.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 41 Comments
      johnb
      • 2 Years Ago
      Virginia seems to have more vanity plates than any other state. I couldn't believe how many I saw when I lived there.
        J
        • 2 Years Ago
        @johnb
        Illinois, too. A friend from IL they're free if you put a number in there.
        Basil Exposition
        • 2 Years Ago
        @johnb
        It's because it is free there.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Basil Exposition
          In VA, a standard vanity plate will set you back an extra $10 per year. Pretty cheap, but definately not free.
      Adam
      • 2 Years Ago
      I live in Ohio. So weak they said I couldn't get, "helrazr" on my trans am because of the "hell" part. Maybe I should've sued them and claim I'm devil worshipper and they're infringing on my religion.
      Chris
      • 2 Years Ago
      What's so offensive about that license plate. I think it's pretty hilarious. What do they afraid it's going to encourage cannibalism?
      Mike
      • 2 Years Ago
      For nearly 5 years my license plate said OH SH1T. Not so clever, that word committee.
        michigan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike
        Dumb idea made dumber by incorrect spelling. Numbers and letters aren't interchangeable you know
      caddy-v
      • 2 Years Ago
      Obama's limo says "EAT THE DOGS FIRST".
      michigan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Personalized plates.... waste of money. None of them are really clever or even make sense
      canuckcharlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is nowhere near as bad as the Florida plate "A55 RGY"
        Dayv
        • 2 Years Ago
        @canuckcharlie
        Actually, it was 455 RGY, with an image of an orange in the middle, and it wasn't even custom. Just a random string of characters issued by the DMV.
      wylin923
      • 2 Years Ago
      my favorites are still "therapist" and "iluvtofu"
      shotterboy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Best plate hands down http://www.bannedinhollywood.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/anaslex.jpg
      Jaylgo
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is one of the worst state one can live in, to many freaking regulations. Got to love Florida.
      chris
      • 2 Years Ago
      I saw this Subaru Impreza with a license plate that said "EVO LOL"
      Big Squid
      • 2 Years Ago
      I read about a guy whose plate read 6UL DV8.
    • Load More Comments