Claim: Photograph shows a Florida license plate that accidentally spells out a risqué phrase.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2000]
Is this picture real?
Origins: For several decades now, state motor vehicle departments of states have employed
combinations used on motor vehicle license plates. The process has never been perfectly straightforward, since factors other than predictable letter combinations have to be considered. For one thing, certain digits can be mistaken for letters (e.g., from a distance, the numbers 0, 1, and 5 are easily confused with the letters O, I, and S). And
the advent of motorist-selected personalized plates in the 1970s added a whole new dimension to the problem, as motor vehicle departments could no longer rely upon anticipating the regular letter-number patterns issued in sequence but had to scrutinize each application individually to weed out a variety of tricks: applicants combining letters and numbers designed to spell out words and phrases
The license plate displayed in the photograph demonstrates how difficult it is to foresee every conceivable problem in this regard, with letters, numbers resembling letters, and the decorative orange that appears in the center of a Florida plate all joining to turn the innocuous combination
Last updated: 20 October 2013
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