Once every day, a "Special Plates Review Committee" sits down to ponder new requests for Ohio vanity license plates. The group of seven includes folks ranging from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles' chief dealer of licensing to the department's customer service assistants.
If there isn't a consensus, the offending plate is pushed up the ladder for Top Men to make a final call. For all the innocuous "ILUVCATS" that find happy homes on beige mini-vans, there is also a pile of rejections. The denials include those featuring vulgarities, threatening remarks, racist language, and sexual references, as well as acronyms and abbreviations that might be harder for the untrained eye to decipher.
Happily, sleazeball motorists are not exactly taking over our roads. From January through May, the Special Plates Review Committee had rejected 57 out of an astounding 194,000 vanity plate submissions, according to documents provided by the Ohio Department of Public Safety. (18 more were rejected between May and July.) Outcasts range from the predictably prurient (ORGZM, ICUM1ST), to expressions of a sporting bent (BCSSUX), to the pathetically lame (1BADSOB, FKNAWSM), to the-why-would-you-ever-want-that (EATSHHT), to the definitely clever yet just as definitely forbidden (CAPSAHO).
If you think you can slide a naughty reference by the board, rest assured it won't work. BMV spokeswoman Lindsey Bohrer says the group digs into the interwebs to research the more inscrutable entries.
"When reviewing, we primarily use the internet, which gives us access to various language websites, including sites for urban slang," she says. "There is a file that is kept of all the words we have denied in the past, which we add to each day, so the combinations in the file are automatically blocked."
For example, "NEONFTW" was among the vetoed applications. While the plate was likely intended to convey "Neon, for the Win" to uninterested fellow drivers, "FTW" can also mean "Fuck the World," so it earned the red X. In fact, the BMV references no higher an authority than Urban Dictionary in clarifying why the plate was rejected. And they really are careful with profanity over there: They even censored the naughty word as "F*ck" in their e-mail.
Below, the complete list of rejected plates so far in 2011.
OHELL, NGASPLS, MPGSUX, HAULSAZ, FOKFUNY, FKNAWSM, FKGAS, FCKWME, 1BPISC, WYTTRSH, WTF1, WOPMNEY, STLRSUQ, STEWGOT, SMARTAZ, RICHFKR, RFNPL8, PORNER1, ORGZM, OMGBFD, NGASPLZ, NEONFTW, MOMSMLK, LILSOB, KILLNEM, ITSTITS, ISHOOTU, IKUM1ST, ICUM1ST, HOLESHT, HIYELLW, H8TERS, FUPAME, FUKFUNY, FTMFWB, FOURPLA, FNDODGE, FKNMINI, FCKNLOW, EFNAWSM, EFFEMUP, EATSHHT, DOOKIE1, CUUUCH, CAPSAHO, BENZFTW, BCSSUX, BAMFTA, BAADAZZ, B4D4SS, ASSN9, 4VAJJ, 4CLIMAX, 2FNHOT, 1BATTOP, 1BADSOB, FKGAS, FNFASST, FUBLU, BTCH1, COONIN, DIUKN, DMBFN46, ABADSOB, S2GOTZ, STUGOTZ, HAULSAZ, IFARTED, IH8NCAA, IMRFBCH, MIGKLR, MSTNKLR, NOFARTN, ZMB3KLR