Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


One of the time-honored ways She Who Must Be Obeyed and I pass the time on long road trips is by playing the License Plate Game.

It’s not anything that requires a whole lot of brain power. You look at the various license plates you see on the highway, make a note of what states or provinces they’re from, and tally up the total at the end of the trip. Simple stuff.

There’s even iPhone software to help you keep track of the tags you’ve found. Yep - there’s an app for that! (Because sometimes pencil and paper are so... archaic.)

One of the things we could not help but notice was the incredible - nay, ridiculous - variety of Florida tags. There is a profusion of different license plates, allowing Sunshine State motorists to proclaim their love and allegiance to any number of causes, be they sports teams, colleges, or favorite ideologies.

Just how many different plates are there? To find out, I went to Florida’s official license tag website, where I discovered that, in addition to the two “standard” license tags (one with the traditional Sunshine State motto, the other with the pandering-to-the-religious right In God We Trust motto), Florida offers an amazing 115 - count ’em! - specialty license tags. Here’s the breakdown...

Environmental: 20, including “Save the Manatee,” “Sea Turtle,” and “Save the Whales - Collect Them All - Win Valuable Prizes”
Miscellaneous: 49, including “Live the Dream,” whatever the hell that means, and “NASCAR”
Professional Sports Franchises: 9
Universities: 36

Holy fuckamoley, that’s a lotta different tags! But is that an anomaly? How about Georgia?

Well, Georgia currently issues 109 different specialty tags, including those for universities, various branches of the military (and specific conflicts), and other “special interest” plates. So maybe Florida is nothing special...

...except nowhere else have we seen so many people actually driving around with all those different tags. In Georgia, you see ’em... but they’re not, seemingly, on every other car. And you don’t see the sheer variety you do here in SoFl.

What’s the License Tag situation like where you live? Inquiring (and easily distracted) minds want to know.

Update: SWMBO had a theory about why Florida specialty tags appear to be so numerous: In most states (e.g., Georgia), the specialty tags carry more-or-less the same color scheme as the basic tag... but in Florida, the designs are all completely different - as though a rainbow had thrown up on ’em (quoth SWMBO). And I think she has a good point.


El Capitan said...

Texas has a ridiculous number of options. There's 216 options, if you count the state-produced plates in all their variations, and a subcontractor that offers luxury plates.

I have a hard enough time coughing up the annual registration fee (aka Road Tax), much less spend extra for fancy plates.

Anonymous said...

I am more intrigued by vanity plates. NE13SH and the like... (Nebish, if it wasn't obvious.)

Virginia has to have the market covered on those. (Only $10 extra...)

The Maximum Leader said...

I will have to agree with the previous commenter. I believe my beloved Commonwealth of Virginia has the market locked up on the vanity plate market. According to their website you can choose from over 200 different plates. They don't seem to have a final actual tally as they keep adding new plates. I know that you only need 350 people to buy the plates before the DMV will do a run of the plates for you.

JT said...

I'm a Texan, so El Capitan covered the number issue.

As to the license plate game - it was a favorite of my grandmother's. In 1985 my grandparents traveled with us to Hawaii. We were driving to Hana on day 4 or 5 when she remarked that she hadn't seen any out of state plates!

Anonymous said...

I live at the intersection of NY, Vermont, and Quebec, so all I see is boring (Vermont is plain green, Quebec is plain white and NY recently switched to a weird orange from its white with scenic top border.)

Homeschool Mom

Jerry in Texas said...

Indiana has 75 differnet plates according to the website. Seems like more. The standard plate is blue with white letters. The "In God We Trust" is also blue with white letters, and is offered for the standard plate price. This had the ACLU up in arms because it is promoting Christianity above other religions. The ACLU sued and lost the case.

BTW, the "In God We Trust" drivers are the worst. I don't know what the connection is, but I give them a wide berth.

Teresa said...

My perusal of the Massachusetts RMV site turned up 18 different plates. I did not see any of the special Veteran plates there and of course there are several versions of those - one day I was behind the car of a Vet with a Bronze Star.

Anyhow - I think most people up here are too stingy to pay extra for plates - so even with the limited number of specialty plates I don't see too many outside the regular type being sported.

We have never paid extra... who wants to give the state government an extra tax just to put a special plate on the car??? Sheesh!

Cappy said...

Ohio needs a Corn Storage plate.

Claude said...

In Ontario, we have a choice of 55 to 60 personalized license plates.
It costs $20 more than the regular one. The list of what you CANNOT put is much longer that what you can. The IN GOD WE TRUST wouldn't be accepted. Nothing political, religious, sexual, racial, verbally aggressive, etc.etc.etc.

Don't quote me on this. I don't drive. I just asked a friend...


Elisson said...

I'm not a big fan of the "In God We Trust" plates, but only because I think the only reason they exist is state legislatures pandering to conservative religious groups. As far as the ACLU's suit is concerned, the fact is, there's nothing especially Christian about the motto, coming as it does from the Jewish Zohar.

Some people object to "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the United States out of Constitutional concerns - it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment - but since 90% of the population approves of it, it ain't going away.

Teddy Roosevelt was famously opposed to its use on coinage; he felt it was disrespectful, even sacrilegious. Presumably, he'd be horrified to see it on license plates.

Maybe the folks who drive so poorly (and whose plates bear the motto) think God is their co-pilot. Good luck with that. Heh.