The rejected vanity plates of Massachusetts, Montana, and New Jersey

From DBALLZ to Y0H0, the best of what didn’t make it past the censors

Written by Daniel Schneider
Edited by JPat Brown

Starting last month, Muckrock launched its Vanity Plate Rejection Project by putting out FOIA requests on rejected vanity license plate applications to DMVs across the country. A number of our requests are still pending, although nine states have since replied saying that they don’t keep track of rejected applications. In Utah’s case, we were even told that such information is kept confidential due to one or more state privacy laws.  

Lucky for us, several agencies have since responded with long lists of all the weird, embarrassing, confusing, and perverted things people have actually tried—and failed—to display on their cars. Hopefully these selections will give you pause the next time you consider having anything but random letters and numbers stamped on your license plate.

Massachusetts

New York may have been the first state in the country to require plates on cars, but in 1903 Massachusetts became the first state to issue licenses directly through a state agency, known then as the Massachusetts Highway Commission. The rich history around this innovation seems to have hardly stopped Massachusetts drivers from trying to register some awful vanity plates, of which 50 were rejected in 2013 alone.

Examples:

  • GTFO

  • STRIPR

  • DBALLZ

  • FUOCO – This may be related to the Italian phrase Con fuoco or ‘with fire,’ which is used a musical direction instructing a musician to play intensely and fast. So either a Boston Symphony Orchestra player has really bad taste, or someone who speaks Italian had purchased a really fast car.

  • CHULO

  • ARYAN1 – “Hi, I’m looking for a vanity plate, something that screams ‘Please key my car from front to back.’ Any suggestions?…”

  • FAWAKA

  • SMUSH

  • GUSHA

  • MLKMNY – Unsure if this is supposed to be short for “Milk Money” or “Martin Luther King Money.”

Montana

Although most of the requests we put out went directly through the state’s DMV (or its equivalent), Montana’s response came from the Motor Vehicle division of its Department of Justice. The folks at the MT DOJ ultimately provided – after a little prodding – a list of not only the 180 vanity license plates that were rejected in 2013, but a full list of the 4141 plates that have ever been rejected.

A special thanks to Troy Carter at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle for following through on this request.

Examples:

  • FRACIN/FRACED/FRACIT/FRACME – Montana’s Rocky Mountain front has been the site of increased natural gas exploration – specifically hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” – in the past few years, to the short-term boon of a few local economies and the ire of environmental activists. That is to say: Sierra Club members probably didn’t file these vanity plate applications.

  • RDSX

  • CREAMIN

  • DAMDAWG

  • DRTBGGR

  • SUKAFSH – Meant to serve as a clear warning to triflin’ fish on the highway.

  • 911SONG

  • EFNFNLY

  • Y0H0

  • PUDN

New Jersey

The Garden State doesn’t keep a year-to-year record of vanity plates that it rejects. Instead, each time a new application is rejected the offending letter/number combination is filed away in a database for future reference. The best that the DMV was able to do, then, was to give us a list of the 2293 rejected plates it’s rejected since the database was first established.

Examples:

  • CRACKER

  • BLOODS/CRIPS/HITMEN/JIHAD3/KIL0/LSD – We’re not professional criminals, but it seems like advertising illegal activities on your car is a really easy way to get flagged by the police. Just a thought.

  • SCHMUCK

  • UNKNOWN

  • FUBAR – This is common military slang that means “F-ed Up Beyond All Recognition.” There must be a lot of cheeky veterans in New Jersey, because there we found 200 rejected plates alone using some form of this phrase.

  • RAM0NES

  • SH0TS

  • NJSUCKS

  • MCNASTY

  • P0NYB0Y – Big fan of The Outsiders, right here.


Image via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0