5 Things PennDOT Won’t Let You Say on a Vanity Plate

Rendering of a rejected Pennsylvania vanity plate, according to PennDOT guidelines. (Desiree Tapia)

By Ashley Adams

April 13, 2023

In Pennsylvania, you can shell out extra money to get a custom vanity plate for your vehicle. But what you can say is subject to Department of Transportation guidelines.

Think you have a great idea for a vanity license plate? If you’re willing to spend $79 you can get one for your car, but there are limits to what you can say.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has a ‘Do Not Issue’ list of about 10,000 license plate combinations. They can deny an application for a long list of reasons. In some cases, the reason is fairly obvious. In others, it’s simply a matter of reading them backwards or sideways. 

When PennDOT receives a personalized plate application, a team of employees reviews the request. The state’s vehicle code gives the team the authority to reject any license plate request considered to be in poor taste or that could be misleading.

If a request is approved, the personalized plate should arrive in the mail in four to six weeks. If it’s rejected, a letter will arrive in the mail advising the vehicle owner of that determination.

Here are five reasons a vanity plate submission can be rejected by PennDOT:

Lewd or Obscene Language

If you like to drop the “FBOMB” or are an “A22HOJ3” you won’t be able to proudly proclaim it on your license plate. PennDOT rejects all plate requests with profane, lewd, lascivious, obscene, or vulgar language. Even references that are creatively spelled, like “MUDRFKR,” or read backwards, “55ADAB,” won’t be appearing on a plate anytime soon. And don’t even think about “MSTRNOSUX.”

5 Things PennDOT Won’t Let You Say on a Vanity Plate
Rendering of a rejected Pennsylvania vanity plate, according to PennDOT guidelines. (Desiree Tapia)

Sexual Innuendo

As far as PennDOT is concerned, what happens in your bedroom should stay in your bedroom because they won’t put it on a license plate. No sexual innuendos or connotations allowed. So forget about putting “ILUVTTZ,” “HO CAT,” “GROPER,” or “JAGOFF” on your plate. And you may like “4PLAY” but even activities leading up to sexual intercourse aren’t allowed on a PA plate.

Related to Illegal Activities

A government agency is not going to approve any endorsement of crime. So it’s no small wonder that blatant crimes and criminal organizations are on PennDOT’s ban list. So you can forget about getting “STOLEIT,” “GNRUNNR,” or “MAFIA” on your license plate. 

5 Things PennDOT Won’t Let You Say on a Vanity Plate
Rendering of a rejected Pennsylvania vanity plate, according to PennDOT guidelines. (Desiree Tapia)

Related to Substance Abuse

Any pro-drug or alcohol plate is snuffed out by PennDOT. So you’ll have to display your fondness for “HASHASH,” “CRAK,” or “ATEBALL” somewhere else. Even “ELCHAPO,” a reference to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, will be struck down by the transportation czars.

Reference to Excretory Functions

PennDOT also wants you to keep your fondness for “PISS” or “POOP” to yourself—nobody really needs to know that anyway—as Pennsylvania bans plate requests if they involve excretory functions.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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