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Fashionably Plate
By Rob Pegoraro

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 22, 1997

Long before personal Web pages existed, personalized license plates were the favored way to flaunt your individuality before indifferent passersby. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has just taken the logical next step: You can try out vanity-plate messages at its Web site ( Enter up to seven characters and select one of 116 plate styles (everything from "Chesapeake Bay" to "National Rifle Association"), and the page reports back if your message is available. Click once more to see it as it'll appear on a plate and to reserve it in the DMV's database. (You do need to have your vehicle titled and registered in Virginia first, though.)

As it just so happens, "WSHPOST" is up for grabs. I'm tempted to snatch it, except for the certainty that with my luck, the day after I immortalize my employment in such a public fashion, I'll be fired, and then I'll have that reminder following me around the Beltway for everyone to laugh at. Interestingly, although the DMV's press release claims that "potentially offensive messages" are rejected, I had no trouble with derivations of various four-letter words while I was scolded that "DORK" could be "inappropriate or offensive to other motorists and their passengers." And there's still no screening for taste: Somewhere on the roads of the Old Dominion cruise vehicles proudly sporting the simple messages of "SCHMUCK" and "LOSER."
-Rob Pegoraro (

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