Home » There Is Actually One Legal Way You Can Hide Part Of Your License Plate

There Is Actually One Legal Way You Can Hide Part Of Your License Plate

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If I were to go outside right now with the roll of black gaffers’ tape I always keep on me (the result of a childhood promise made to former SNL alumnus Nora Dunn) and strip off chunks of tape, and then apply those strips of tape to my license plate, pretty much everywhere I stick that tape will land my ass in trouble with the law. I can’t cover the registration stickers, either of them, I can’t cover any of the digits or do anything that will obfuscate the legibility of any of the digits, there’s really not much I can do at all. But, significantly, there is precisely one (1) part of my state-issued license plate I can cover up, should I so choose. And my right to do that has been defended by the Supreme Court. Yes, that Supreme Court.

I know I made you jump all the way to the second paragraph and the story itself to find the answer to this, but, well, I gotta eat, and I want your precious, precious clicks. But you’ve earned it now, so here you go: the one part of your state-issued license plate you can legally obscure is the motto.

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That’s right! The motto! Or the slogan, or the mission statement, or state-approved quote, or whatever the hell you want to call it! You know what I’m talking about. These things:

Platmottos

The little bits of extra text there that are printed on the license plates in an effort to convey a bit about the character of the state or some ideas whoever was in charge of license plates at the time thought were important. But here’s the thing: if you don’t believe in whatever that motto says, you don’t have to have it legible on your plate!

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If you think Empire State, my ass, cover it up! Aloha State? More like Alwhogivesashit State! Pure Michigan? Pure crap! Lone Star? How about Lone Wang? Sportsman’s Paradise? Sportsman’s wang! First in Flight? First in this, more like it (makes wanking-off hand gesture)!

You see what I’m getting at. You don’t even need a good reason, though there are certainly good reasons to do this. In fact, back in 1975, a North Carolinian named Walter Williams III had a pretty solid reason. You see, at the time, the North Carolina license plate slogan was First In Freedom, and Williams, a black man, felt that for him and people like him, the idea that North Carolina had any special claims to being especially free were disingenuous, at best.

He covered the motto with tape, one of a number of people to do so, and was eventually pulled over as a result, at least in part:

A white Smithfield police officer stopped [Williams] and asked about the tape. After Williams explained that he didn’t believe North Carolina offers equal freedom for blacks, the officer gave him the ticket and added the speeding charge, Williams said.

Williams said that while he was explaining why he taped the slogan, “He told me if I didn’t like the slogan I ought to move.” The officer was laughing as he drove away, Williams said.

The North Carolina Civil Liberties Union defended William’s right to obscure the slogan, “to show disagreement as part of the free speech.” Williams didn’t have to wait too long to be vindicated, because other people in other states were doing similar things, for a wide variety of reasons. In New Hampshire, a man named George Maynard, a Jehova’s Witness, removed the “or Die” part of the New Hampshire state license plate slogan, “Live Free or Die.” I don’t think Witnesses believe that something like a human-run state is worthy of death oath, or something along those lines. Maynard actually went to jail as a result of his modification of the license plate.

Maynard’s case went all the way to the Supreme Court, 1976’s Wooley v. Maynard, and was decided in Maynard’s favor by a vote of six to three. Here’s a good synopsis:

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In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that New Hampshire could not constitutionally require citizens to display the state motto upon their vehicle license plates. The Court found that the statute in question effectively required individuals to “use their private property as a ‘mobile billboard’ for the State’s ideological message.” The Court held that the State’s interests in requiring the motto did not outweigh free speech principles under the First Amendment, including “the right of individuals to hold a point of view different from the majority and to refuse to foster. . .an idea they find morally objectionable.”

So, there you go! If you think your state’s license plate motto is stupid, you are under no obligation to display that inanity on either end of your car. Cover it up or change it if you want! As long as it’s not interfering with the overall legibility of the license plate, you should be fine. And that’s not just me saying so – the highest court in the land agrees.

That’s why if I ever move to Ohio I’m Sharpie’ing out that “Birthplace of Aviation” bullshit, because, yeah, the Wright Brothers may have been from there, but they deliberately left and came to lovely North Carolina for that historic first flight. That’s just how it is, Buckears or Buckeyes or whatever you’re called. Just be happy because you have all those astronauts and presidents and the Jeep plant in Toledo or whatever.

 

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Logan King
Logan King
4 months ago

Of course in my experience with living in NC and seeing all the cars driving on temp tags from a year or more ago licence plates are basically optional anyway.

Rafael
Rafael
4 months ago

Interesting fact (or not): If I lived in North Carolina, I would probably want to obscure that motto as well. You see, where I come from (Brazil) the Wright brothers flight is seen as “illegitimate” because
a) it was not public
b) it was a secret for a few years
c) the thing was supposed to be catapulted into the air
d) we have a Brazilian we prefer to credit instead (Santos Dummont), so we don’t even really care for the factual accuracy of any of the above anyway…

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

a) thru c) are demonstrably false statements. As for d), well… that’s on you, I guess.

Rafael
Rafael
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

I’ll admit that “our” claim is mostly ignored outside Brazil (or maybe France) and it rests less on doubting they did their tests before 1906, and more on the practicality of the Flyer vs the 14-bis (and sure, they had other designs from 1904 onwards). However, they DID tested their machines in secret up until 1906 or 1907, for fear of intellectual property theft, and the Flyer relied a launching rail and favourable winds for the supposed (yeah, I said it!) flight 🙂
To be clear, I’m not really that invested in this debate since my twenties, just wanted to bring the subject here for fun!

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

Like I said, those claims are demonstrably false, including the one about them testing in secret. There were multiple unrelated and unbiased eyewitnesses to the first flight at Kitty Hawk and numerous newspaper articles about it at the time that you can easily find copies of if you hunt around. Subsequent designs and testing was no more secret than any other business would do to protect their intellectual property. Huffman Prairie is a wide open plain just outside of a major metropolitan area, open to the public. Anyone could see them flying. They just had to look up.
Fighters launched from an aircraft carrier also use a catapult, rail system, and favorable winds. Does that mean they aren’t really airplanes? Why do you think that even matters? Powered flight is powered flight.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rad Barchetta
Rafael
Rafael
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Well, I brough this up more as a curiosity, and I don’t really expect to convince anyone of my points, but I beg to differ that they are “demonstrably false” (or that you demonstrated so). Let me clarify:
1) I never said there were no witness, and didn’t even question their testimony (as some of my compatriots do). It is just that (for whatever reason) they treated it as a trade secret.
2) As for the newspaper articles, the ones I could find all mentioned how they kept it under wraps until other claims of “heavy than air” started to come from Europe (one of them specifically said “local boys emulate Santos Dummont”).
3) Finally, practicality matters. They weren’t the first ones to attach an engine to a glider, neither the first ones to devise a piloting mechanism. They claimed they were the first ones to do so in a practical way. That is not a fact, but an opinion – mainstream opinion, in the US and elsewhere I grant you that; but not an unanimous one – hence me bringing this up :-).

I can cite the fact that (as I’ve stated) they didn’t take off, but were launched, and their control mechanism was a dead end. Fighter jets use a catapult for other reasons, and I don’t think the Flyer was able to participate in any dogfights, right? On the other hand, the 14bis did take off, under its own power, and landed smoothly, with better controls even – albeit those were another dead end, but… less dead? But none of this matters – history is not just plain facts, but a narrative, and theirs won, almost everywhere.

Again, this is not something I’ve been particularly interested for almost two decades. There are more to this than I can remember. I just wanted you guys to be aware that there is a competing claim that is very popular on my country!

Data
Data
4 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

That just like you’re opinion, man.

Rafael
Rafael
4 months ago
Reply to  Data

Yes it is, and I wanted to share with y’all 🙂

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

“we have a Brazilian we prefer to credit instead (Santos Dummont)”

Santos Dummont: First in Very Personal Grooming.

Last edited 4 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Rafael
Rafael
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Well, one thing I learned about him at school is that he had a very tidy workshop, supposedly able to work on his machines and then leave for a fancy dinner with the same clothes – I’ve strived to do the same, but without much success (no one invited me for fancy dinners after the first time they saw grease on my white tie suit)

Rafael
Rafael
4 months ago

Can you also obscure the URL at the bottom of Michigan’s plate? Actually, they are sneaky, conflating the motto and the state’s name in one row 🙂
Just curious, though, I live in West NotUSA, so I have no horse in this race 🙂

VanGuy
VanGuy
4 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

PA’s (current default) plates don’t have this apply…in fact, last I checked, even my thin black license plate frame is technically illegal here, since it obstructs any part of the plate (even if it’s just the paint and not any words).

https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2022/08/pa-police-license-plate-frame-pulled-over-traffic-stop/

Article from last year, haven’t heard any updates on the situation.

EDIT: sorry, this was meant to be a top-level comment

Last edited 4 months ago by VanGuy
Rafael
Rafael
4 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

Nah, all good, still appreciate having a reply, even if by mistake 🙂

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
4 months ago

So if I move to Wisconsin, I can change my plate to say “smell our dairy air”?

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
4 months ago

Yeah, like I’m really gonna throw shade at Abe Lincoln, one of the greatest presidents in history. I guess we’re just not controversial enough.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
4 months ago

Indeed, Land of Lincoln is pretty hard to argue with but I’ll bet some asshole out there objects. Southern Illinois is pretty drawl deep south.

ES
ES
4 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

yeah, but he grew up in Southern Illinois, and made his bones riding the circuit down there. Big booster of Springfield.

Data
Data
4 months ago

This is a car site. Land of Lincoln is clearly a reference to Continentals and Town Cars.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
4 months ago
Reply to  Data

Not really. Oak Brook and Elmwood Park are Cadillac towns. Most of the North Shore (especially New Trier) is as BMW/Merc as it gets. DuPage has more Hondas and Toyotas than a pier at Long Beach. And South of 80 is pretty much just pickup trucks and crapped-out Impalas.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
4 months ago

The North Shore is also currently replete with Audi’s, Porsche’s, Telsa’s, and more than anything, Wranglers Unlimited. Just try to drive one block without seeing a 4 door Wrangler driven by a teen girl or her wanna still be a teen middle-aged mother. It just cannot be done.

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
4 months ago

Does this mean I can take a sharpie and cross out the “in god we trust” on currency?

Separation of church and state my ass.

Geekycop .
Geekycop .
4 months ago

I’d love to say go for it, but I’m not sure the same applies here as you aren’t required to display it on your personal property.

It’d be an interesting question for any constitutional law lawyers or judges that might want to chime in.

P.s. I may be a cop and religious myself, but I don’t personally think that the government should be trying to force anyone to believe in any single religious tradition. Believe what you want as long as you aren’t violating the rights of other people or victimizing them, have at it, you do you. I also detest the DEA drug schedule system and the otherwise law abiding and socially responsible people that it makes criminals out of, if that helps give you some indication where my mindset sits.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Geekycop .

I’m not a cop and I’m an atheist.

Preach!

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
4 months ago
Reply to  Geekycop .

I appreciate your point of view – I am 100% in favor of folks having the right to their own religious views, my beef with the dollar bill has always been that it pretty directly undermines the first amendment.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
4 months ago

I creatively modify the motto on every piece of paper currency that comes into my possession; so far, no one has commented. At one point, you could buy a Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster self-inking stamp to make such modifications even easier. 🙂

Jblues
Jblues
4 months ago

Geez, Jason performs a public service with this article, then chooses violence in the last paragraph.

SCJeff
SCJeff
4 months ago
Reply to  Jblues

Yeah, just last week there was a Sharpie attack near me, it was horrific.

LTDScott
LTDScott
4 months ago

On the Michigan plate wouldn’t obscuring the “slogan” also remove the primary state identification of the plate? I can see covering the “Pure” part.

I ask partly because I wonder if it’s kosher to obscure the state website URL. In Calfornia the URL is for the friggin DMV, not even a tourism or official state website, and I hate it.

Of course on my ’85 LTD I straight up converted my 2001 California plates to 1985 era sunset plates thanks to reflectorized decals (which appear to no longer be available from the site I got them from, unsurprisingly).

121gwats
121gwats
4 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

It says Michigan.com at the bottom, so as long as one stays its probably fine. I bet you could get away with protesting the internet and covering .com as well.

JerryLH3
JerryLH3
4 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Florida has myflorida.com on theirs and it is so unbelievably stupid. It used to have all sorts of state agencies and services off to the side, now it’s just a landing page that makes a search its most prominent feature. They have had this ugly plate for 20 years now and I have thought they looked ugly for all 20 of them.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
4 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

You might want to check the url to see where it actually links to:
https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a44083580/maryland-license-plates-filipino-gambling-accident/

Paul B
Paul B
4 months ago

+1 for the use of gaffer tape instead of the inferior duct tape.

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

100%! Gaffer’s tape is the shit.

Last edited 4 months ago by Dead Elvis, Inc.
Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

No, I’m sorry but the only option here is “100mph tape” because it’s high speed and low drag.

Paul B
Paul B
4 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

That’s Torch’s Pao, it’s never seeing 100mph.

Hiram McDaniel
Hiram McDaniel
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

absolutely, I have taped down many a microphone cable with gaffers tape.

Jack Swansey
Jack Swansey
4 months ago

My stupidest firmly-held automotive belief is that North Carolina and Ohio need to swap license plate slogans.

The Ohioan Wright Brothers were the first people in flight.

Kitty Hawk, NC is the location of the first powered flight, ergo, the Birthplace of Aviation

Steve L
Steve L
4 months ago

I’m in New Hampshire, and I remember Maynard’s case well.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve L

NH: Live Free or Cheap

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
4 months ago

In Tennessee if you order license plate renewals by mail you sometimes don’t get a choice between the one with the “In God We Trust” motto & the one without; even if you do cover up the motto it’s still not 100% effective because of how the plates are differentiated:
https://tennesseelookout.com/briefs/in-god-we-trust-license-plates-draw-attention/
Already there have been reports of people being singled out by LEOs based on these plates, particularly in the more rural areas, though such reports are anecdotal & have not resulted in any official actions, AFAIK, to rectify such situations.
However, sometimes it doesn’t seem like it’s been a good century since the Scopes monkey trial in this state…

Last edited 4 months ago by Collegiate Autodidact
Cuzn Ed
Cuzn Ed
4 months ago

Yeah, i was really annoyed by that addition to the plates. Still am, if i’m honest. Because, even though i can request one without it… i shouldn’t need to – separation, dammit.

My conspiracy brain keeps suggesting that they did it purposely, to boost the sale of specialty plates that automatically don’t include the illegal slogan. As a guy who’s terrible at navigating awkward situations, i wasn’t sure that i’d have the gumption to ask the lady for a non-religious plate. But, hey, for a mere $55 extra per year, i don’t have to have that encounter! Yeah, some of that extra fee goes to a worthy cause, blah blah blah. They tricked weak-kneed folks like me into paying extra – they know what they did! [medium-light-skintone laughing face emoji]

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
4 months ago

The rule should be this.
If you can cover up the stupid state slogan, then you should also be allowed to REPLACE it with one of your choice. Now that would be a fun test of the Pizza Supreme Court.

Space
Space
4 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

Signs point to yes.

JamesRL
JamesRL
4 months ago

I never thought I’d want to move to Ohio… but this article makes me want to move to Ohio SPECIFICALLY so I can become a martyr over their license plates.

Since the Supreme Court says you can obscure the plate’s motto then that means you can paint the whole of an Ohio license plate white, except the numbers, registration sticker, and “Ohio” at the top.

Ohio has their background as a bunch of mottos like “The Buckeye state” and “Birthplace of Aviation”… but the one slogan that I take issue with (just because its on a state issued plate) is “With God All Things Are Possible”… and it’s placement is directly in the number field making it difficult to obscure.

I only take issue with it because it flys directly in the face of Religious Freedom and anyone whose religion differs from Christianity.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  JamesRL

Well, the jokes on you, because those plates got replaced about 2 years ago. And because that phrase is under the number field means you can’t even read it except on vanity plates with less than 5 characters. I’ve had those plates since they debuted and didn’t even know that was on there. You’d never know it from looking at pictures on the internet, but in reality the text is so faint you can’t really even read any of it unless your nose is pressed up against the plate. But hey, welcome to Ohio. Remember that if someone asks if you want to have a 3-way, it’s a dinner invitation, not a proposal.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rad Barchetta
Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

You have 3-way marriages in Ohio?

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

I said it’s not a proposal. Nice try, though.

Inthemikelane
Inthemikelane
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Barely visible or not, JamesRL is right, this has no place on a state issued plate, or any fed or state document. There shouldn’t be any mention of religion.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Skyline FTW!

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

But what about AFTER dinner?

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

For those of us experienced in 3-ways, a York Peppermint Patty.

For rookies, Tums.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

I like the California version better.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  JamesRL

Just replace “God” with “Dog”.

Problem solved.

Edit:

“and it’s placement is directly in the number field making it difficult to obscure.”

Or not.

Last edited 4 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
4 months ago

My brain always translates North Carolina’s “First in Flight” into “Run Away!”

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago

This is actually really interesting and makes sense, I was not aware you could do that. I actually really like Idaho plates for the art on them but think the slogan “Famous Potatoes” is tiresome, there is so much more to Idaho than potatoes, and that slogan makes Idaho sound boring. I wanna change it to “We’re not California!”

Mike G.
Mike G.
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I’ve been to Idaho many times and I think you are being sarcastic. Please provide at least one example of something that proves there is more to Idaho than Famous Potatoes (and is worthy of being on all Idaho license plates).

I do like your idea of “We’re not California”, but that is what you are not… What are you….

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike G.

I’m not being sarcastic at all. Idaho is 70% national forest, most of it is mountainous, and all of it is beautiful. There are a few unfortunate areas of the state that are just desert which people drive through to go somewhere else, which is where I think people’s concept of Idaho being a boring place comes from. But the majority of the state is outstandingly beautiful, there’s no shortage of activities for outdoorsy types – great skiing, camping, whitewater rafting, hiking, etc. It’s a nature-lover’s paradise.

It’s also a car enthusiast’s paradise. Huge JDM scene, classic car scene, whatever you’re into Idaho has it, and there are no emissions tests or inspections so you can basically do whatever you want. The weather/climate is also great for the vast majority of the year, not so much rain that things rust but not so much sun that the soft bits turn to dust either.

Mike G.
Mike G.
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I was being a jerk and yanking your chain but your response is awesome. I also learned some stuff! I knew about the beautiful areas of Idaho, but not that it was 70% National Forest or about the JDM scene which I find unexpected. Has it always had the JDM scene, or is that a recent “California-import”?

My Dad lives just outside Boise for just the last 20-years and I have visited many times and have experienced a lot of classic car shows but never noticed much JDM stuff.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike G.

The JDM stuff has certainly exploded in recent years, but it’s very much a thing. There is an importation company in the state, and I’ve seen several R32 GTRs out and about even in small towns. Also there are A TON of kei trucks and vans, Boise in particular has lots of them, and they’re not just farmers’ runabouts – the three most notable I’ve seen recently were a sage green one owned by a coffee shop, a kei camper van, and a pink kei truck on basket-weave rims. There’s also a college that has a whole fleet of them for utilitarian purposes. There are also a few Suzuki Cappuccinos and whatnot here and there. Idaho could never get away with revoking titles for kei vehicles, the population is in love with them and would revolt.

Idaho may not have any big national parks like Rocky Mountain or Yellowstone, but in some ways it’s kinda like the whole state is a national park. You can get a national park pass for pretty cheap and get into a lot of really cool little areas year-round. There are also several areas out in the forest where you’ll find a bunch of big fancy houses surrounding some beautiful lake full of lovely old boats, which are basically where people go when they’ve made it in life but don’t really want to be bothered with being around many other people. And that’s kind of the odd thing about most of the state, we know most of the country overlooks us and we’re perfectly fine with that, we’re content to be left alone in our big pretty quiet forests only occasionally interrupted by the passing of big V8s and right-hand-drive novelties.

In some ways, I think the slogan “Famous Potatoes” is an intentional way of trying to convince outsiders there’s nothing to see here, but nowadays the word is out thanks to real estate companies advertising comparatively low prices and natural beauty to Californians, so it’s no longer the well-kept secret it used to be.

Strangek
Strangek
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Huh. I’m sold. Honey, we’re going to Idaho!

RataTejas
RataTejas
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike G.

Submarines, and they’re really big on racism and white supremacy? Idaho’s panhandle and East Texas have a lot in common.

Also stunningly beautiful with amazing lakes. Montana and Glacier get the glory, but Idaho is way nicer.

Last edited 4 months ago by RataTejas
Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I wanna change it to “We’re not California!”

Well, that is one fact that satisfies both Idahoans and Californians…

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Idaho: Come for the Potatoes, Stay for the Famous Neo-Nazi Militia Training Camps doesn’t fit though

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
4 months ago
Reply to  Harvey Park

How about: No Freedom for Women

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  Widgetsltd

Hate all you want, more Idaho for me.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

You’re not even Oregon.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
4 months ago
Last edited 4 months ago by Hoonicus
Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago

All state license plates should be white with black numbers and no other extraneous writings, damn it, because I said so.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

There’s a new Utah plate, all black with white letters, nothing else. It was kinda retro old school cool but now everyone is getting it just to join the “in” crowd.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Everything’s an accessory these days.

Mike G.
Mike G.
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

I’ve seen very similar plate designs recently: The Iowa Blackout and Colorado Historical plates are all black with white letters.

121gwats
121gwats
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike G.

Iowa resident, can confirm the blackout plates are sweet. Just a simple black plate with white lettering, no slogan. California started the trend by reissuing their old black plates with yellow lettering, a historic plate initially. Turns out no one likes local state-hired graphic designers’ committee chosen art.. huh, weird.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Yeah, that’s the Indiana truck plate on my pickup.

Meanwhile, my wife’s van has the current car plate “design” which is a stars-and-stripes design with the plate number offset to the right. And the license plate frame nicely obscures the “In God We Trust” motto on the bottom, because while it’s the motto on a dollar bill, in the red-state hellscape that is Indiana, it carries a very different connotation.

Decades ago, I was living in Indiana when they had the infamous “Wander” logo on the plates that tied in with the “Wander Indiana” tourism campaign. Trouble was, “Wander” by itself on the top margin of the plate and “Indiana” down below made no immediate sense when glancing at the plate. It was dumb. It sold a lot of plate frames that neatly covered up the “Wander” bit. A lot of car dealerships started using plastic plate frames with their logo on the big plastic tab that covered the “Wander” bit. Quite possibly one of the dumbest plate designs, and it helped spawn the rise of logo-covering plate frames.

Also I’m pretty sure New Hampshire has occasionally gotten pissy over plate frames covering up their “Live Free or Die” motto… And failing to see the irony. By their laws, any frame covering any edge of the plate isn’t legal. Yes, I had to take the frame off of the wife’s van to get it to pass inspection at least once. It went back on as soon as it was back home. (“Live Free or Die” my ass.)

Last edited 4 months ago by UnseenCat
Dalton
Dalton
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

I can’t imagine living a life in which I am this unfun.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

And instead of the state name, it should just say “License Plate” and the number should be a UPC code.

Strangek
Strangek
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

We’ve got a black with white numbers Road America plate up here. Lots of people get it because it looks cool, not because they enjoy racing unfortunately.

RataTejas
RataTejas
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Texas standard issue. Can confirm. Also Lone Star State, but that’s inoffensive.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago

On some Georgia plates, they list the county of residence. Not wanting to celebrate Alexander Hamilton Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, I changed the county on my BMW from STEPHENS to BAVARIAN. There are 159 counties in Georgia. I doubt the average cop knows them all.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

If you’re driving a BMW in Georgia, outside of Atlanta, that’s already probable cause for a traffic stop.

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
4 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Mississippi does the same thing. We have a Jefferson Davis county. Oh my dear God.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
4 months ago
Reply to  Iwannadrive637

And his birthday is a state holiday in Alabama, I have been told.

Last edited 4 months ago by Col Lingus
Jeff Hager
Jeff Hager
4 months ago
Reply to  Iwannadrive637

GA has Jeff Davis county as well. Why celebrate the VP of the Confederate states when you can celebrate the prez? /S

I do appreciate the GA veteran plates.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Hager

As inconceivable as it seems, AH Stephens might have been an even more terrible person than Jeff Davis. But he didn’t get a carving on Stone Mountain.

Jeff Hager
Jeff Hager
4 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Just tell the LEO you live in Helen, GA.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago

Jason will henceforth be known as the Jew who misspelled Jehovah. (left off the second h)

Last edited 4 months ago by Chronometric
Donald Petersen
Donald Petersen
4 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Isn’t it spelled YHWH?

Geekycop .
Geekycop .
4 months ago

*Insert Indiana Jones gif here.*

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago

The first flight occurred and concept proven at Kitty Hawk, but the idea was born in Dayton, as was the development of all subsequent designs once they didn’t need the wind of the sand dunes anymore.

Jblues
Jblues
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Thus proving the motto for Ohio plates should be “Well, aaaaaactualllly…”

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
4 months ago
Reply to  Jblues

I agree with Rad, but this made me laugh.

A. Barth
A. Barth
4 months ago

The pic shows a nature enthusiast plate, but Nebraska 100% should change their motto to “Ornate Box Turtle”.

It’s vaguely cryptic in a free-association kind of way and it does not reference corn.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
4 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Ha. I’d prefer ours say “Penis of the Plains”

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
4 months ago

How about if you cover the motto but change the colors of the plate but still correct numbers readable?

Samuel Fakename
Samuel Fakename
4 months ago

How about the most egregious extra text on any plate: “dmv.ca.gov” on every California plate?

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
4 months ago

I suppose it hasn’t been legally tested yet, but it would be interesting to see if one could cover up the state DMV URL with another one.

I half-assed a Photoshop job of a Cali plate the the “dmv.ca.gov” replaced by “theautopian.com” (written in Comic Sans on silver duct tape) before I realized that I can’t post images here.

Vicente Perez
Vicente Perez
4 months ago

Nothing could ever sell California to the rest of the country better than an efficient, well run, DMV website.

(Joke)

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
4 months ago

I’d be fine with it if we actually had a standard plate that was in any way attractive or distinctive. But nope, the “nice” plates are only available for a fee upon purchase, PLUS an additional $80 a year on top of your annual registration renewal. It’s freaking insane.

Jb996
Jb996
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Fusion

Also true in other states. I paid more so that I didn’t have to have a hideous government-funded lowest-bidder graphic design.

VanGuy
VanGuy
4 months ago
Reply to  Jb996

Not all states. I had a vanity plate in PA for a while and it only cost extra to acquire, not anything extra to renew.

Samuel Fakename
Samuel Fakename
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Fusion

I really don’t get the hate for the plate other than the URL, it’s legible, fairly neutral in color, the cursive California isn’t as cool as the 80s Sunset plate, but it’s still a vibe, without the URL it’s a fine 8/10 plate. I know plate nerds love stuff like New Mexico which is a lovely design in a vacuum but it’s a lot to ask of everyone in a state to affix a bright turquoise and yellow rectangle to their vehicle.

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
4 months ago

Nah, California’s basic plate is dull as dishwater. It’s kind of an affront to a state that is known for car culture. You said it yourself, the 80s Sunset plate had more style, and I would consider that the bare minimum.

Maybe a plate with blue letters on a white background, with the state name in red cursive at the top, could be distinctive — in a world where Louisiana hadn’t done the exact same thing!

EXL500
EXL500
4 months ago

Terrific post and I learned something!

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