NC DMV Finds 10,000 Banned License Plate Phrases, Including Anti-Semitism


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RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles recently conducted an audit of its “Do Not Issue” list for license plates.

DMV Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said this is the first time the DMV has done a complete review of the list.

The list contains almost 10,000 phrases that cannot be on a license plate. Some phrases, including LGBTQ phrases, were removed from the list is under review and new words are constantly being added.

CBS 17 asked Goodwin how it is possible that there are so many banned phrases.

“It’s a rabbit hole and it’s easy to fall down, but people are crafty and creative and crafty,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said the department finished revising the list at the end of 2022, a process that took several months. Not all of the words on the list are malicious, like 911, or the W strings, which the DMV says are confusing.

Other phrases are clear hate speech.

Wake County Commissioner for District 7 Vicki Adamson said earlier this month the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary sent her a photo of a license plate with an anti-Semitic slur sent to them by a community member.

“I was like, ‘what’s wrong with us,’ my first reaction was, ‘Oh my God,'” Adamson said.

She reported this to Commissioner Goodwin in early January.

DMV spokesman Marty Homan said the driver in question was sent a letter in October along with the new license plate.

He said the man did not hand over the plate. In order to retrieve it, the officers of the Bureau of Licenses and Thefts were called.

Homan said the driver had a previous license plate with the same phrase, the only difference was an “S” at the end instead of a “5.”

Goodwin said they have received complaints about other offensive signs, including one that contains the word “ARIAN,” which is part of Nazi ideology.

CBS 17 asked Goodwin how those deadlines end up on plates.

“Well, we get hundreds of them a month, and they may not appear, originally appeared on the list, or people are using, people used letters — instead of an ‘E’ they’ll use a ‘3,’” Goodwin said.

He said each plate is manually inspected before being issued. He has no estimate of how many plates there are that shouldn’t be there.

“And then of course you wonder who owns it, you know, who would feel the need to put it on a license plate?” Adamson said.

Goodwin said they recently made the committee that looks into hateful conditions more diverse.

He gave one example of a plate that appears normal at first glance is “ASL,” which may be related to American Sign Language, but when the agency Googled it, results came up for “age, gender, location.”

Phil Brodsky, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary, said the group is grateful for the support and response on behalf of the Jewish community and all target groups.

NC DMV Finds 10,000 Banned License Plate Phrases, Including Anti-Semitism

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