The rules: You can’t put just anything on your vanity plate

The state keeps a “banned list” of character combinations that will automatically be denied.

A sample Washington license plate. (State Department of Licensing)

A sample Washington license plate. (State Department of Licensing)

Personalized plates can be a combination of letters, numbers, hyphens or spaces, up to seven characters long, or up to six characters for smaller motorcycle and trailer plates.

The most popular personalized plates are sports-related. Other popular picks are nicknames, or the name of the person’s car, said Jessie Knudsen, a spokeswoman for Washington State Licensing.

There are upfront costs. For a passenger vehicle, that’s $84.75. The plate must be renewed each year, with a $42 fee.

This is similar to specialty license plates, which have different backgrounds from the standard Mount Rainier vista and benefit various causes. Many people with specialty plates also personalize them, and they pay both fees.

No vulgar, racial, ethnic or indecent messages are allowed.

The state keeps a “banned list” updated, with pre-vetted combinations that will automatically be denied. Many refer to sex and certain body parts. Others refer to drugs, or translate to swear words.

“We are learning new slang all the time and try to incorporate as many languages as possible,” Knudsen said.

Sometimes things slip through the cracks.

The DOL’s special plate team is reviewing one that drew complaints. When placed alongside politically charged stickers, the combination of characters seemed to oppose having a black man in the White House.

“In context that personalized plate may have taken on a meaning that wasn’t apparent when the applicant submitted their request,” Knudsen said.

In situations where at least two people complain, the combination is retired in the next renewal cycle, she said.

If a requested plate combination is denied, it’s not always because the DOL has deemed it inappropriate. It may be that it’s simply already spoken for.

Decisions can be appealed.

“There are also a number of entries that have been brought out of retirement because a request was made, then appealed and ultimately determined that the combination no longer held the connotation that it once did,” Knudsen said.

One of those? “FARTS.”

“So, if you know anyone who’s been waiting on that plate, it’s fresh on the market,” she said.

More info

www.dol.wa.gov

— Melissa Slager

More in Local News

Will Boy Scout bankruptcy sweep abuse cases under the rug?

38 scouting officials in Washington were known to be a danger to kids, including one in Everett.

Separate suspected DUI, hit-and-run crashes hospitalize 4

Emergency responders were busy Saturday night after three collisions across Lynnwood.

After misconduct, new oversight comes to CASA court program

Child advocates lied, spied and destroyed evidence. Now, the program has been renamed and revamped.

Girlfriend on trial in 2 torture-murders in Snohomish County

Lendsay Meza’s boyfriend is serving life in prison for two horrific killings. She’s accused of helping.

Charge: Lynnwood tobacco smuggler dodged $1 million in taxes

The man, 57, reportedly dealt in illicit cigarettes. Tax returns claimed he sold hats and T-shirts.

‘Sexually violent predator’ won’t be living on Whidbey Island

After 20 years on McNeil Island, Curtis Brogi wanted to move to Oak Harbor. He’ll end up in Tacoma.

Front Porch

EVENTS Camano blood drive Bloodworks Northwest is scheduled to set up a… Continue reading

Crime is down, but Everett hopes to hire 24 more officers

There’s still a sense residents “don’t feel safe,” the mayor says, and police are busier than ever.

Bill would require kids’ menus to offer healthy beverages

Children would still be able to order a soda for their meal, but healthier choices would be the default.

Most Read