Posted: Friday, 16 September 2016
What's in a number? Apparently plenty of headaches for the DVLA, who have released an extensive list of 66-plate registrations that will not be available to purchase due to being deemed "in poor taste". Unfortunately, the new 66 registration seems to fit remarkably well into a wide variety of rude and suggestive words. Hence, they've been banned.
The DVLA routinely vetoes registration plates that they believe could cause offence, with censors meeting every six months to determine what rude words could be made out of the new registration number, as each new registration presents a new list of potentially offensive combinations. Most are censored for rude or sexual connotations; however, plates can also be banned for political, religious or racial reasons.
The 66-plate, which came into effect for all new cars on September 1st this year, seems to have turned up an unusually large crop, as it substitutes easily for the letters GG. Banned 66 registration plates so far include HU66 NOB, BU66 ER, DO66 ERS and OR66 ASM.
While some inevitably slip through the net each time, that doesn't mean it's safe, even if you've paid for it. If a plate provokes complaints, the DVLA legally has the right to force you to hand the registration back to them. Once it's been banned, it can never be removed from the list.
A spokesperson for the DVLA explained, "It's all done by taste, and if some slip through and we get a complaint, we take the feedback on board."
The DVLA won't reveal the full list of banned 66 plates, but it is known to stretch to 10 pages long.
UK registration plate censorship is much stricter than in some other countries. In the USA, state governments are forbidden by the Constitution to censor the message that private citizens choose to display on their license plates, as to do so is seen as contravening the right to free speech. Charities or interest groups who offer their own speciality license plates can be censored, but only if the message directly goes against state interests. Even that small degree of censorship was decided by an extremely narrow margin of five to four in the Supreme Court earlier this year.
The format for UK plates at present is a two-letter memory tag and a two-number age identifier, followed by three random letters. The first letter of the memory tag represents the region where the cat was registered, with the second referring to the nearest DVLA office.
The 66 plate will apply to all new cars registered between September 1st, 2016 and February 28th, 2017. After this date, the age identifier number will change to 17, which will doubtlessly produce its own crop of obscene number plates for the DVLA to handle.