Autos

This State Has the Most Personalized License Plates

vanity license plate

We spend a great deal of time in our vehicles, which leads many of us to wish there was a way to make our vehicle a better reflection of our personality. Since most of don’t have any shot of purchasing a limited model, fully customized vehicle like a Porsche 911, we have to look for different ways to make our ride stand out. Popular choices include adding decals, expensive fancy wheels, custom paint jobs, and hanging interesting mementos off the rearview mirror. One popular and often humorous method for customizing your ride is swapping your boring license plate with a personalized license plate.

Which state has the most personalized license plates?

Virginia has the distinction of being the state with the most personalized license plates. Approximately 1,065,217 of the state’s registered 6,578,773 vehicles have a personalized vanity plate. (That’s 16% of drivers, if you’re doing the math.) You’ll see the fewest number of personalized license plates in Wyoming, where only 2.94% of the state’s drivers have opted for a personalized license plate.

Why states like personalized license plates

While license plates have been used since the early days of automobile history, they haven’t always looked like the one currently attached to your vehicle. In the beginning, they were made from porcelain. Later, states experimented and made them out of different types of materials, including copper and leather. During WWII when metal was in short supply, license plates were crafted out of cardboard and pressed soybeans.

The first time someone received a customized license plate was in 1931. The driver lived in Pennsylvania. At the time the customization was limited to drivers having their initials added to the plate. 

It wasn’t until 1965 that drivers were able to order unique combinations of numbers and letters that are currently called vanity plates. 

Individuals who choose to have a vanity plate issued to them rather than accepting the random combination of numbers and letters the state issues feel that the vanity plate not only allows them to customize their ride but also provides them with the means of showing off their unique personality. Many hope their personalized license also provides a moment of levity for other drivers.

The government has a different reason for loving vanity plates. The customized license plates provide an additional opportunity for the government to earn some extra revenue. It’s one of the government’s few means for money-making programs that note many people complain about. In addition to the normal fees associated with getting a license plate for your vehicle, the state charges an additional fee. In Virginia, adding a vanity plate to your vehicle costs an additional $10-$50 which is in addition to the annual cost of registering your vehicle. That’s considerably lower then what personalized license plates in other states cost. For example, in Minnesota, the personalized plate that cost you $10 in Virginia costs $100. 

Stop and think before ordering a personalized license plate

When you decide you want to get a personalized license plate, you want to stop and really think about what you want the plate to say. Not only do you have to think of something that no other driver in your state uses, you also must hope your Department of Motor Vehicles approves it. They reserve the right to reject anything that they think will make other drivers uncomfortable. In Utah, approximately 1,000 vanity plate ideas are rejected annually.

You also want to think about potential complications that may arise once you’re driving around with your new license plate. More than one driver has found themselves on the wrong side of the law after their vanity plate triggered problems with the local police computer. Recently, a driver who used the word NULL on their plate collected $12,049 in tickets because that was the word the computer used when a vehicle didn’t have any plates on it.

Are you planning on getting a personalized license plate or are you content with a state-issued plate?