These are some of hundreds of messages celebrating victory in Houston that are emblazoned on the commonwealth’s boutique Nationals plate, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles via a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Post sought lists of plates that were approved or denied by the DMV between Oct. 1, when the Nationals won a wild-card game against the Milwaukee Brewers to advance to the National League Division Series, and Nov. 14, two weeks after Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley to clinch the championship.
More than 350 plates were approved during that time, ranging from the general “DIDDIT” to the very specific “S95YRS.” Some plates challenged “RUANAT” while others projected confidence (“1AND0”). There was even a contrarian message of sorts: “SNATOR.”
Not all requests, however, made it through. Rejected Nationals plates included two that seemed to target Bryce Harper: “BEAT3,” a reference to Harper’s number in Philadelphia, and another that appeared to abbreviate a vulgarity.
Brandy Brubaker, spokeswoman for the Virginia DMV, said there were about 4,254 Nationals plates on the road on Sept. 30 and 4,622 on Nov. 30 — an increase of more than 8 percent in two months.
The state has 1 million personalized plates, and all proposals must be vetted to ensure they are ready for the road, she said. Almost 2,000 message requests have been declined so far this year.
“The majority of these messages are legitimate and fun,” she said. “People like having the option of displaying things they enjoy on their license plate.” However, she added: “We have to take precautions to prevent inappropriate messages.”
These precautions include a computer program that scans requested plates through a list of almost 30,000 objectionable messages, Brubaker said. Because clever vulgarians are always trying to outwit state technology, the program also scans the messages backward.
Plates deemed questionable are reviewed by “a committee of diverse DMV employees” about once a month, according to Brubaker, who has served on the committee. Messages deemed profane, sexually explicit or violent — among other no-nos — by the committee of about 12 are nixed.
There is an appeals process for those who feel their proposed plates were wrongly denied.
Virginia is not alone in examining vanity plates. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration reserves the right to deny plates with “scatological” connotations, a spokeswoman said, and District regulations indicate any plates that “relate to sexual or eliminatory functions,” among other criteria, are verboten.
Brubaker said Virginia’s committee that vets messages on plates has reviewed 142 proposals this year. As for what they contained, Brubaker said, “you can use your imagination.”