According to legend, actor Ernest Borgnine started the vanity license plate craze in this country when he talked the California Department of Motor Vehicles into giving him the plate “BORG 9.”
Since then, the vanity craze has spread to almost every state in the union with most governments recognizing a cash cow where they can charge extra to give motorists plates with words or acronyms that drive others motorists crazy.
Virginia leads most states in the issuing vanity plates primarily because the Old Dominion charges less than many other states and also issues more “specialty” plates than other jurisdictions.
Vanity plates have spawned a number of web sites, including Leon Poon’s Vanity Plates Web Page where he lists more than 1,000 vanity messages and profiles a series of plates that tell the story of Oedipus Rex.
Some of our favorites: CNTCME (on a Dodge Stealth), BOXDOC (a gynecologist’s plate) and TIHS HO (imagine it in your rear-view mirror).
Poon also passes on the story of one poor sap who applied for, and received “NO PLATE” as his vanity plate. Then he got notices for more than 2500 unpaid parking tickets in the mail. Seems whenever a cop issues a ticket for a car with no license plate, they write “No plate” on the ticket and DMV then sends the notice to the owner of “NO PLATE.”
Live and learn.