Automobile owners in the District of Columbia may soon be permitted to display greater vanity. The city is preparing to allow longer personalized tags. Under the plan, they'll be the longest in the region.

Under present regulations, the special D.C. tags--the kind that say such things as QT, MYBUG, SR 1 (for Southern Railway 1) and countless other cutesy combinations--are limited to five letters or numerals.

According to an official announcement from the D.C. Transportation Department, "Many individuals have requested personal tags that would have six or seven letters or numerals." So the department is going along with the idea. Unless rescinded in the meantime, the tag expansion plan will go into effect around Oct. 16.

Here is the precise wording: "Applicants may make any number of reservations desired for personalized tags , and may request reservations for any combination of letters or numbers or both, as desired, not to exceed seven positions on a tag, including spaces between the letters or numbers."

That would put the District ahead of the two adjacent states. Virginia permits six characters (letters and/or numbers), including spaces, on a tag. Maryland permits six characters, but special tag buyers are permitted one space extra.