News & Politics

Behold the Vanity Plates DC Rejected in 2018

A personalized tag in the District of Columbia can't refer to God or politics.

Photograph via iStock.

What does it take to get a personalized plate rejected in the District of Columbia? Follow the same ancient rule about conversation at dinner parties: It’s best to stay away from God and politics. Of the 53 tags DC Department of Motor Vehicles staffers rejected in 2018, eight included application-ending references to God or books of the Bible—tags like 4ULORD, PSALM23, and YESGOD got the hook. (Another was for someone who wanted BUTGOD8, and I could see the motivation for that one leaning in a different direction.)

Washingtonian acquired the list of rejected tags via a Freedom of Information Act request. Among the many differences between the District of Columbia’s rejected plates and those of its neighbor Virginia is that no one in DC appears to have tried and failed to get a variant of “DEEZNUTS.”

DC lists its prohibited personalized tag language in Section 18-423 of its Municipal Regulations. In addition to no-no’s you may expect (profanity, references to drugs or body parts), the District does not allow tags that refer to “race, religion, color, deity, ethnic heritage, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, or political affiliation.” That last one tripped up applicants who wanted “4OBAMA” and “GOVOTE.”

Some would-be anti-Trump plates landed in the category of messages that could be “considered offensive to general public” rather than the political bucket: “45SHOLE,” “DUMP45,” and “TRE45ON.” They were followed into this wilderness of thwarted ambition by plates including “VGNRUNR,” “GNATFAN,” and “PHNDAH8R.”

DC issues a relatively small number of personalized tags each year: 617 in fiscal year 2018, DMV spokesperson Vanessa E. Newton tells Washingtonian. If a customer disputes the rejection of their application, Newton says, it’ll be reviewed by a chain of administrators going all the way to the director. “After further review and discussion with customers, DC DMV has overturned personalized tag rejections,” Newton writes in an email.

Here’s the full list of plates DC rejected in 2018:

DC Denied Vanity Tags, 2018 by Washingtonian Magazine on Scribd

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.