Custom Front License Plates can only go on vehicles in States where the State does not require a
front license plate. If you are from a State that requires a State Front License Plate you can always use a Custom
License Plate Frame/Holder to show your message.
Vanity License Plates Issued by the DMVs
In 2007, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) and Stefan Lonce, author
of License to Roam: Vanity License Plates and the Stories They Tell, conducted North America's first state by state
and province by province survey of vanity plates, revealing that there are 9.7 million vehicles with personalized
vanity license plates.
The survey ranked jurisdictions by "vanity plate penetration rate", which is the percentage of
registered motor vehicles that are vanity type. Virginia has the highest U.S. vanity plate penetration rate
(16.19%), followed by New Hampshire (13.99%), Illinois (13.41%), Nevada (12.73%), Montana (9.8%), Maine (9.7%),
Connecticut (8.14%), New Jersey (6.8%), North Dakota (6.5%) and Vermont (6.1%). Texas had the lowest vanity plate
penetration rate (0.5%).
According to the Federal Highway Administration, in 2005 there were 242,991,747 privately owned and commercial
registered automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles in the U.S., which means that 3.83% of eligible U.S. vehicles have
Ontario had the highest Canadian vanity plate penetration rate (4.59%), followed by Saskatchewan
(2.69%), Manitoba (1.96%), the Yukon (1.79%), and the Northwest Territories (1.75%). British Columbia had the
lowest vanity plate penetration rate (0.59%).
According to Statistics Canada, in 2006 there were 14,980,046 registered motor vehicles (excluding buses, trailers,
and off-road, farm and construction vehicles) in the provinces and territories that issue vanity plates, which
means that 2.94 % of eligible Canadian vehicles have vanity plates.
Massachusetts vanity plate on a parked motorcycle in Boston
The survey also found that vanity plates are issued by every state and the District of Columbia, and every
province, except for Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. In some states and provinces, optional plates can also
be vanity plates and are a choice of motorists who want a more distinctive personalized plate. However, the maximum
number of characters on an optional plate may be lower than on a standard-issue plate. For example, the U.S. state
of Virginia allows up to 7.5 characters (a space or hyphen is counted as 0.5 character) on a standard-issue plate,
but only up to 6 characters on many of its optional plates.
In some states, a motorist may check the availability of a desired combination online.
All U.S. states and Canadian provinces that issue vanity plates have a "blue list" of vanity plates
that contains banned words, phrases, or letter/number combinations. The U.S. state of Florida, for example, has
banned such plates as "PIMPALA", while the state of New York bans any plates with the letters "FDNY", "NYPD", or
"GOD", among others. Often the ban is to eliminate confusion with plates used on governmental vehicles or plates
used on other classes of vehicles. However, a licensing authority's discretion to deny or revoke "offensive" vanity
plates is finite. For example, some U.S. motorists have successfully sued their state governments on that issue
under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The "blue list" is not definitive; in general, the agent processing an application for a vanity
plate can reject a plate if it is deemed offensive, even if the phrase does not match a banned word exactly. State
DMVs have received complaints about offensive vanity plates. In this case, the DMV can revoke a plate if it is
deemed offensive, even if it had been previously approved.
The "blue list" may be limited to genuine vanity plates, not covering computer-generated accidents.
For example, Florida's famous "A55 RGY" license plate (with the standard drawing of an orange in the middle) looks
like "ASS ORGY".
Self-referencing vanity plate
In some cases, a plate that has already been issued can be recalled and stripped from the vehicle's
owner if the plate's message is found to be in violation after it has been issued. Some notable cases are:
In 2002, a Florida man was stripped of his plates that read "ATHEIST", but was then allowed to keep them.
A Virginia woman lost her plates that read "HAISSEM" (messiah spelled backwards).
In 2002, a Washington resident's request for the plate "GOTMILF" was approved, but was later
canceled due to complaints. Another factor leading to the cancellation was that the applicant gave a misleading
meaning of GOTMILF (Got MILF (slang), a slight alteration of Got Milk?) when applying for the plate.
In 2007, a South Dakota woman nearly lost her vanity plates that read "MPEACHW" (meaning "impeach
W"), but the decision to remove them was later reversed.
In 2009, Jimmy Marr, a longtime member of Eugene, Oregon's controversial Pacifica Forum, was
stripped of his plates that read "NO ZOG". Protestors at a Phoenix, Oregon neo-Nazi meeting noticed the plates on
Marr's vehicle. The state DMV had initially approved the plate without recognizing it as anti-Semitic.