The Joy of Reading… Personalized License Plates

One of the most stunning moments I experienced while driving occurred on a windy stretch of Interstate 5 through the Siskiyou Pass.  I was a relatively new driver, careful to travel the speed limit and hold the steering wheel in the “10 and 2” position.  I hadn’t spent enough time on the road to adopt the eventual comfort level that allows for those small driving infractions that can get us into trouble.  I was green enough that it wouldn’t have crossed my mind to do anything while driving except drive.  Which is why it was so surprising to see a gentleman behind the wheel of a light pickup truck… reading a book.

I hope I’ll never get complacent enough to enjoy a novel while occupying the driver’s seat.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not reading.  There’s an entire world of entertaining literature to be found on America’s roadways and it’s featured prominently on our bumpers.  While I’ve never been attached enough to a particular word or phrase to have it emblazoned on my vehicle (the decision is similar to choosing an image to have tattooed on one’s person) I do admire those brave enough to voice an opinion or make a joke, all without saying a thing.

So here’re some of my favorite license plates (for more visit  Feel free to add to it!

By the way, here are the statutes governing Oregon license plates (thanks to


Specialty plates

Oregon Statutes

805.205. Issuance of special plates for certain groups; rules; surcharge; disposition of moneys.  (1) The Department of Transportation by rule shall provide for issuance of registration plates described in subsection (3) of this section for nonprofit groups meeting the qualifications for tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, for institutions of higher education and for veterans’ organizations … . Plates issued under this section may not contain expressions of political opinion or religious belief. Rules adopted under this section shall include, but need not be limited to, rules that: (a) Describe general qualifications to be met by any group in order to be eligible for plates issued under this section. (b) Specify circumstances under which the department may cease to issue plates for any particular group.

Personalized plates

805.240. Customized plates; fee.    The Department of Transportation is authorized to issue customized registration plates upon the request of vehicle owners.

Oregon Administrative Rules

735-046-0010 Custom Plates — Application and Standards. (7) DMV shall not approve a custom plate choice, including plate choices that would do so by means of foreign or slang words or phrases, by use of phonetic, numeric or reverse spelling, or by being viewed in mirror image, that:    (a) Would have the effect of alarming, threatening, offending or misleading a reasonable person. Such choices may include, but are not limited to, combinations of letters, numbers or both that:      (A) Refer to intimate bodily parts or to sexual or excretory acts or functions;      (B) Refer in an alarming or offensive manner to a person or class of persons on the basis or race, color, gender, ethnic heritage, national origin, or other characteristic;      (C) Suggest that the vehicle to which the custom plate is issued is an official vehicle of a public agency or official, when it is in fact not such a vehicle; and/or      (D) Refer to illegal acts.    (b) Refers to alcoholic beverages, or controlled substances or paraphernalia used in the consumption thereof by combinations of letters, numbers or both. (8) DMV may use any reliable lexicological source to determine the meaning of any word, symbol or phrase. (9) When reviewing a plate choice for approval, DMV need not consider the applicant’s subjective intent or declared meaning.


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