By Zeta Cross | The Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) – Customized vanity license plates are a popular way for drivers to distinguish themselves from the pack. However, some don’t make the cut.
“BITEME” is one of 400 requested custom license plate letter combinations that were rejected by the Secretary of State’s office last year. The requested plate falls into the “potentially offensive” category.
“It’s subjective,” Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias told The Center Square. “Everybody’s threshold is different. We don’t want to offend people.”
On his car, Giannoulias has the standard Land of Lincoln, easy-to-read license plate with numbers and letters, he said.
“This isn’t the first time that I have been called boring,” he joked.
Giannoulias encourages motorists to get creative and come up with clever and catchy license plates, he said.
One elderly driver with a handicapped insignia and a good sense of humor opted for PASS ME. A female Iron Man competitor picked IRON WMN. One hairdresser chose HAIR GOD.
“We want people to visit our website and Pick-A-Plate. Life is short. Have fun with it,” Giannoulias said. “It does bring revenue to the state.”
Last year, 54,236 people in Illinois requested customized license plates, opting to pay $27 to $100 a year more to put a message on their license plate.
Plate requests that were rejected last year include DUCKYU, COKAIN and a plate that is hard to read – WMWWWMW.
“Our priority is to make sure that license plates are easily identifiable for law enforcement,” Giannoulias said. “We want people to have fun, enjoy the process and be creative. But we want to make sure that the lines aren’t crossed.”
In Illinois, unique license plates are divided into two categories: vanity plates and personalized plates. Vanity plates contain up to three numbers or one to seven letters. Personalized plates contain both letters and numbers. The Illinois Secretary of State’s website is the place to go to order one.
#1 Firefighter Memorial plate
#2 Chicago White Sox plate
#3 Cardinal Environmental plate
The most popular dedicated plate last year has the Firefighter Memorial insignia. A portion of the fee from that plate goes to the Illinois Firefighters Memorial at the Illinois State Capitol Complex in Springfield.
The White Sox insignia license plate came in second.
The green and red environmental plate that features the Illinois state bird, the cardinal, perched on the state prairie grass, big bluestem, ranked third.
The Cubs logo license plate ranked number five.
“Most plate requests are approved,” Giannoulias said. “A small percentage do fail to meet the standards of what we believe are good taste and decency.”
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