Artistic license: Plate designs, vanity options have roads full of personalization

Artistic license: Plate designs, vanity options have roads full of personalization

Variety is the spice of license plates.

There are 110 different categories (with sub-categories, for colleges within a university) for alumni groups, service organizations, sports fans, veterans groups and more, says Dave Druker of the Illinois Secretary of State's Office. It's the most in the nation.

We love our schools, and we love to tell people about ourselves. However, be on your best behavior. The number of words not allowed as obscene or racist is at 6,635 and counting, Druker added.

Seen at various times on the street: friends with "PASUBY" and "PASUBY4"; "HKYDAD7"; "MOMNCO"; "CAFFIN8"; and a 'Vette with "IMA RACR." You might have seen Greg Springer of Urbana's "HLOOSN 8" — or did you just imagine that?

But you won't see the Cardinals.

"We reached out years ago. It's my understanding that Missouri didn't have a St. Louis Cardinals plate yet, and they didn't want Illinois to have one before Missouri. We're working on it. I hope that if you're a Cardinals fan, we'll have one you can use soon," said spokesman Henry Haupt.

One guy who really knows his plates: a soon-to-retire veteran patrol officer. One of Christopher Young's hobbies is to collect photos of outlandish license plates. A bonus is when the vehicle is parked where it decidedly does not belong.

In this case, his favorite is a Mercedes SUV with the plates "NVR GLTY." Because the SUV was parked in a well-displayed no-parking zone before a football game, Young decided, heck, maybe "NVR GLTY" had finally passed his expiration date. In Young's 23 years on the force, he said, "some are very clever; some are downright dumb."

Two more favorites: a car that, for some reason, had his phone number on the plate. Most obscure? "PBNTOAU," which means turning lead into gold, if you take chemistry — or rather, alchemy.

"I talked to him, and he said I was only second person to guess the plate's meaning," Young said.

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