Monday, August 20, 2001

License plates a tricky mix of vanity fare

The Associated Press

        INDIANAPOLIS — Brad Hoffman does for a living what many motorists do unconsciously while behind the wheel: Scans personalized license plates, trying to decipher their meaning.

        Mr. Hoffman is one of two Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles employees who sift through thousands of applications each month to weed out potentially profane plates.

        “I am still surprised every once in a while,” said Mr. Hoffman, special plates administrator for the agency.

        Most plate requests are approved. Only 77 out of about 15,000 have been rejected so far this year. Applicants pay an extra $45 and send in a variety of words made up by a maximum of seven letters or numbers, plus one space.

        A few profanities have slipped through. Someone usually calls to complain, and the offending plate is pulled back with a refund, said agency spokesman Alvin Hayes.

        “Usually the ones your mother would smack you for are not allowed,” Mr. Hayes said.


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