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."
James Cyrus Gilbert III applied to Georgia Department of Driver Services for three vanity plates for his car: 4GAYLIB, GAYPWR and GAYGUY. All three were rejected, so now Gilbert is suing the department on the grounds that his free speech is being unfairly denied. The denial itself isn't the sole issue, what is also being challenged is the arbitrariness of how the state decides what plates will be approved or not.
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.
Vanity plates can be cool, fun to decrypt, annoying or expensive, depending on your perspective. They can be a creative way to show your willingness to pay higher taxes, but take care in making your choice.
In 2009, Texas launched a plan to raise funds by way of increasing fees attached to vanity plates. Through the website MyPlates.com, a Lone Star state resident could order the custom plate of his or her choice for a set fee. Hoping to bring in a few more bucks on the backs of license plates, Texas recently held an auction at Cowboys Stadium for some very particular vanity plates.
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.
Colorado's specialty "Committed to a Cure" license plate was rolled out in 2005. According to the women behind it, the goal was to "create broad awareness about the breast cancer crusade," and Coloradans have paid $50 to put the plates on their cars. A recently passed bill in the Colorado Legislature will add another $25 to that fee, and that extra surcharge has compelled the current plate's designers to ask for it to be retired.
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"
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.
It is unlikely that most of us would pay for $400,000 for a personalized license plate. It is also unlikely that most of us are McLaren F1 driver Lewis Hamilton. The plate, "LEW 1S," was purchased by a real estate tycoon named Bob Lewis for under $100,000. When Lewis Hamilton decided he had to have it for his Mercedes SUV, he threw down more than four times that much to whisk it away from Bob. We have nothing against spending whatever you want on whatever you want. However, the plate purchase se
COOLPL8Z.com is the world's "coolest" vanity license plate resource on the web. Why do we say that? Well we didn't, they did, but we have to agree when one of their featured plates is so obviously near and dear to our hearts. According to the site, COOLPL8Z was launched as an online gallery of vanity plates, plus a collection of resources for acquiring your own custom plate.