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The Legal Limits Of A Vanity License Plate

By Amy Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Thinking of getting a vanity license plate?

Cops in Washington State busted a cocaine trafficker with 24 pounds of coke in his vehicle. They may have been tipped off by his vanity plate: SMUGGLER.

As if getting a car weren’t expensive enough, for a few extra bucks you can pay for a personalized, or vanity, license plate. And while the specific rules and regulations are determined by the individual state’s department of motor vehicles, for the most part you may not use a set of letters or numbers to spell things that are offensive to the people who would be on the road with you.

South Carolina, for example, refused to allow “quickie” on a plate. In addition, many states prohibit references to alcohol, or tobacco. So an Oregon wine merchant couldn’t spell out Vino.

And of course the lesson learned by the Washington coke dealer is that buying a fancy license plate does not make you look any smarter.

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