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General Lee Will Cease Production; Three States Plan To End Specialty Plates

Whether its emblazoned on bumper stickers, license plates or vehicles themselves, the Confederate flag has been a fixture of the automotive landscape for as long as cars have been on the road. This week, that's changing.

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Vanity plates are a great way to test a state's limits on freedom of expression, which makes them good kindling for lawsuits. The latest license litigation comes from Michigan, where the American Civil Liberties Union has brought suit on behalf of a plaintiff against the state for rejecting the plate "WAR SUX."

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The proliferation of automated license plate readers in police departments around the country has increased dramatically over the years, leading the American Civil Liberties Union to commission a report to find out what they are being used for, the policies governing their use and how they should be used to benefit the American public. The report, which has just been released, is called You Are Being Tracked. The report's findings, according to the ACLU, show that plate readers are not being use

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Driving a vehicle with a military license plate in China provides many privileges. Legally reserved for official vehicles only, the designation apparently allows drivers to enjoy special liberties on the roads, including breaking traffic laws, filling up with free fuel and receiving light-and-siren escorts through congested cities. So attractive are the benefits that there is a secondary market for used legal and counterfeit plates - especially among those wealthy enough to afford luxury cars. B

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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.

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What, did you expect them to have a Yankees logo on it?

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Teenagers in New Jersey feel even more singled out than their standard egocentrism engenders. New drivers in the state are required to purchase red decals for their license plates, letting other motorists and law enforcement know who's behind the wheel. Critics of the law say it also puts a big target on the car for anyone intending to do harm to young people. The stickers making easy prey for sex offenders is a big factor in the movement against the legislation.

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It's true. Those souls that spent the majority of their elementary-school education ratting out their classmates to the teacher may have finally found a new way to be a pain make some money. Several new websites have recently started up, all encouraging people to record license plate numbers they see in their area. The more plates they pull down and enter into the sites, the more cash they make – at least theoretically.

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Kansas is revamping the way it issues vanity plates, and it means a lot of residents are going to lose their 'duplicate' personalized plates. They're not really duplicates, though: Unlike most states, Kansas allows people in different counties to have the same alphanumeric combination, so while the tags might appear to be copies, they are registered in different counties and that technically makes them different plates.

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Texas' new vanity license plates – Click above for high-res image gallery

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The great state of New York has just unveiled a new license plate design. They're calling it "Empire Gold," unlike the current drab white and blue plates that New Yorkers have been affixin' to their rides since 2001. However, 57,000 people have already filed a petition at a website called nonewplates.com. Already? While the new NY plates aren't the best looking we've ever seen (black on yellow California plates from the 1950s FTW), they aren't that bad. What gives?

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Saudi Arabia recently instated a new type of license plate that is expected to be fitted to 49 million cars in the kingdom. As opposed to the old Arabic-only plates, the new plates feature Arabic and Latin letters and numbers. Drivers can even request that the three letters on the lower right form certain 3-letter English words, like "nut." But according to the BBC, authorities have published a list words that definitely cannot be placed there, and heading the list of words like "SEX" and "ASS"

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The trade in personalized license plates in the UK can be big business -- the most coveted ones aren't given away, they are auctioned off at country clubs and manor houses. And in spite of a thing called "the recession" the record price paid for a specialty plate in the UK has just been broken, with a Lebanese property developer paying £352,411 ($513,047 USD) to own "1 D." The actual winning bid was £285,000 ($414,893 USD), to which fees and taxes were added.

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