Smilies on car license plates?

  • Thread starter jtbell
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  • #1
jtbell
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Yesterday I saw a car with a North Carolina license plate that read

BUBBLY:-*

(actually the * was in line with the preceding dash, and not raised superscript-style.)

I didn't know such a thing was possible. And yes, it was an official state license plate. I was able to get a good look at it as I walked past it twice in a parking lot.
 

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  • #2
AlephZero
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UK plates can only have letters and numbers in the prescribed sequences, but "leet speak" with the numbers is quite common. Some people have technically illegal plates with numbers upside down (e.g. 3 = E) or the wrong spacing between the symbols.

There are a couple of "celebrity" UK ones: COM 1C owned by Jimmy Tarbuck, and MAG 1C by Paul Daniels. (You can probably guess what they are celebrated for)

Back in the 1980s, the UK offices of Cray Research got a whole series of YMP plates on their company car fleet to match their computer model numbers, from YMP 1 for the deputy assistant to the assistant's deputy, up to YMP 64 for the big cheese.

I just checked on the web, and K155 PFF and M155 PFF are both for sale for about £300, if anybody is interested :smile:
 
  • #3
jtbell
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UK plates can only have letters and numbers in the prescribed sequences

Here, most or all states allow "vanity plates" on which you can specify up to some number of characters (probably about six). You pay an extra fee, you can't duplicate a combination that someone else is already using in your state, and you can't use an "offensive" combination (as decided by your state's department of motor vehicles). However, I've never heard of being able to use non-alphanumeric characters, except maybe dashes (hyphens).
 
  • #4
lisab
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Here, most or all states allow "vanity plates" on which you can specify up to some number of characters (probably about six). You pay an extra fee, you can't duplicate a combination that someone else is already using in your state, and you can't use an "offensive" combination (as decided by your state's department of motor vehicles). However, I've never heard of being able to use non-alphanumeric characters, except maybe dashes (hyphens).

I've not heard of that either!

Would it be harder for citizens to report these plates (for example, calling 911 for suspected drunk drivers)? Some of those symbols might be hard to see clearly. Not sure I could tell a colon from a semi colon, especially at night in the rain. Do most people know an ampersand from an octothorpe?
 
  • #5
AlephZero
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Do US law enforcement agencies use automatic number plate recognition? Or is that contrary to the 793rd Amendment to the Constitution :smile:

European countries have various styles of numbers, but they all seem to be as closely controlled as the UK is.
 
  • #6
dlgoff
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Here's our Kansas Distinctive License Plates.

I like this one in particular. :biggrin:

img_shop_licenseplate.jpg
 
  • #7
AlephZero
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Do most people know an ampersand from an octothorpe?

img_shop_licenseplate.jpg

OK, it's not an ampersand. So it's an octothorpe, right? :biggrin:
 
  • #8
jtbell
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Looks more like a hawktothorpe to me.
 
  • #9
lendav_rott
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Custom plates are a waste of money :/ I've seen plenty, just don't see the point.
 
  • #10
Borek
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attachment.php?attachmentid=66734&stc=1&d=1392717790.jpg


More or less mid-nineties, somewhere in London.
 

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  • #12
SteamKing
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Do US law enforcement agencies use automatic number plate recognition? Or is that contrary to the 793rd Amendment to the Constitution :smile:

European countries have various styles of numbers, but they all seem to be as closely controlled as the UK is.

Ha Ha. There are only 27 amendments to the US Constitution and enforcement of local traffic laws and licensing is not a federal function.

The feds and local police are starting to record license plate numbers of persons who attend certain political functions and certain venues, so abuse is imminent, if it hasn't occurred already.
 
  • #13
SteamKing
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License plates in the US are shifting away from the embossed and painted pieces of metal once used and adopting a flat plate which can have various designs printed on it.

BTW, here are the codes for what is accepted by the NC DMV for custom license plates. Check out the FAQ for what special characters are permitted (the list is quite lengthy).

http://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/vehicle/plates/special/
 
  • #14
AlephZero
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The feds and local police are starting to record license plate numbers of persons who attend certain political functions and certain venues, so abuse is imminent, if it hasn't occurred already.

I was thinking or more mundane stuff, like speed cameras. Some UK police cars are now fitted with ANR to automatically pick up vehicles being used without valid road tax, insurance, annual safety check (MOT) certificate, vehicles reported stolen, illegal registration plates with unissued numbers, plates that don't match the vehicle description (e.g. paint color), etc, irrespective of what "mission" the patrol car and officers are actually engaged on. AFAIK this is even being used for police foot patrols with headset cameras. The evidence is that such vehicles and their drivers or owners are often involved with more serious crimes than "forgetting" to renew their car tax on time or whatever.

Of course this only works because the UK has a national car registration system, and the organization that runs it also runs the national computer database for vehicle testing, and has links to all car insurance company databases. Not much chance of that anything like that being set up in the US, I suppose.
 
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  • #15
jtbell
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Check out the FAQ for what special characters are permitted (the list is quite lengthy).

http://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/vehicle/plates/special/

Hmm, no parentheses! That seems odd. So you can't do a true "smiley".
 
  • #16
SteamKing
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Although traffic laws are enforced at the state and local level in the US, and vehicles are registered with the state, this is no impediment to the federal government, specifically the Dept. of Homeland Security, from gleaning license plate data from a variety of private sources and local law enforcement agencies.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world...474ae8-9816-11e3-9616-d367fa6ea99b_story.html

It's ironic that the DHS has the resources to track otherwise law-abiding citizens, but when it comes to actually enforcing border security, there is a lot of official mumbling and hand wringing about how difficult it would be to track down and locate X number of illegals in the country.

If-YThere-Is-A-Government-Shutdown.jpg
 
  • #17
leroyjenkens
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I've not heard of that either!

Would it be harder for citizens to report these plates (for example, calling 911 for suspected drunk drivers)? Some of those symbols might be hard to see clearly. Not sure I could tell a colon from a semi colon, especially at night in the rain. Do most people know an ampersand from an octothorpe?
Not like it matters. Half the plates I see have a dark tinted cover over it so you have to get within 2 feet to even read it. How those are legal makes utterly no sense.
 
  • #19
jtbell
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"Specialty plates" where did they come up with that?

Money, of course! :smile:

Some people are happy to pay extra money to show their affiliation with a university or other institution, or support for a cause (which usually has some charitable organization associated with it). And those organizations are happy to receive some of that money (with the state taking the rest, of course).
 

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