Friday, October 10, 2008

Specialty Tags

I've followed the trend of vanity and specialty license plates for years now and I am continually amazed at the combinations people come up with. Specialty license plates are offered by many states when you register your vehicles. Years ago they were rare and only were the special vanity sayings that people made up. Now, you can get vanity plates advertising your college alma mater, a charity of your choice, wildlife, and even a variety of military options.

I've seen some funny ones as well. As you can see in the photo, there's a specialty plate that says "Kids First" on the bottom of the plate and someone got EAT THE for their tag. Funny and disturbing.

I've noticed though as I've followed this trend, and even was a part of it for a few years, that there are more vanity and specialty plates when the economy is doing well or on an upswing than when things are not so rosy. I live in a very affluent area and so there are many, many vanity and specialty plates. But as things are getting less than ideal with the economy I am seeing fewer of these plates, but there are always a few around.

About a year ago there was a study done and it was determined that Virginia actually ranks number one in having the most vanity license plates. And the people here say Californians are vain. Of course, a vanity plate only costs an extra $10 here, so it makes it a much more affordable luxury than in some other states.

Some of these plates advertise a person's interests, some just make statements, both nice ones and not so nice ones. I personally enjoy the ones that make you think. I've seen ones that use 1's and 0's to say things, very geeky since you have to know how to read computer binary language to interpret it. I'm not so fond of the ones that just repeat what the car is though. Seems a waste. After all, the car already is labeled, why spend more money to add a repeat label?

It seems we are continually coming up with new ways for people to voice their opinions or show their sense of humor. Plenty of people want to make a statement and they are willing to pay for it, to the benefit of the state that provides the plates. The only problem is in choosing a plate design and then the message, which must be done within the confines of six or seven letters usually. But some of the states make that easy as well, letting you key in your choices online until you find one that works and isn't already taken, and then you can reserve the choice for a short time until you actually place the order and pay for it.

Will these plates become rare again as people become more nervous about the economy? I suspect so but only time will tell.


Charles Gramlich said...

I never really wanted a vanity plate. I mean, if I committed a crime it would make my license much easier to remember.

Virginia Lady said...

You know, Charles, that same thought crossed my mind, but I had already had children when I had my vanity plate. It sort of changed the way I looked at things, at least for a while. ;-)

BernardL said...

I like imaginative specialty license plates, but 'Eat The Kids First' doesn't do it for me. :) I've thought about getting one like: I 'Heart' Global Warming; but my car would be firebombed by weeks end. :)

Shauna Roberts said...

What I like best about vanity plates is that they are a voluntary tax that reduces the need for other taxes. The state pulls in extra money, and the people who buy them don't complain about being taxed because they see exactly where their tax dollars are going, unlike shoring up infrastructure or paying for electricity to light government buildings.

Virginia Lady said...

Bernard, you have a unique sense of humor. I like your idea better than the Kids First one as well.

Shauna, you make an excellent point, but I'm sure most of the people who get these plates aren't looking at the fee as another tax. People can be fooled very easily by a label. (fee vs tax) Thanks for stopping by!