Archive for Sunday, March 7, 2010

New vanity tag rule spurs drivers’ creativity

March 7, 2010


Competition for personalized license plates may be driving some Kansans crazy. A new rule limits personalized messages to one per state, not the longtime one per county.

Competition for personalized license plates may be driving some Kansans crazy. A new rule limits personalized messages to one per state, not the longtime one per county.

A new design and a new law are leading to a scramble for messages on personalized license plates in Kansas.

And the competition already has claimed one victim: Eleanor Nelson’s JAYHAWK tag, which has been in the family since Bob “Nellie” Nelson scrambled into the Douglas County Courthouse to claim it as his own 33 years ago.

The plate long cherished by Nellie — a guy known around town as “Ol’ Jayhawk” — now must go away, as will the 41 identical others statewide as part of a new law that limits messages on personalized plates to one for the entire state, instead of the long-allowed one per county. There are 105 counties in Kansas.

“I’m going to save my 50 bucks or whatever it is extra and just get a regular license,” Eleanor Nelson said. “I’ll just get one with numbers, and not even through the alumni association. I’ll just save my money.”

Try again, folks

Here are the 10 most popular personalized license plates in Kansas last year, a list that will change this year after such vanity messages will be limited to one statewide, instead of one per county:

  1. HUSKERS, one in each of 53 counties

  2. JAYHAWK, 43

  3. GITRDUN, 38

  4. CHIEFS, 37

  5. 2FAST4U, 36

  6. SPOILED, 35

  7. SOONERS, 34

  8. BLESSED, 34

  9. MYTOY, 33

  10. REDNECK, 32

Despite such frustrations, the new law and a new issue of personalized plates for 2010 have not put a dent in such business for the Kansas Department of Revenue, which handles vehicle registrations.

Since the new “America’s Heartland” series of tags hit the streets, more than 30,000 Kansans have signed on for personalized plates, said Carmen Alldritt, the state’s director of vehicles.

While that’s far short of the 87,000 personalized plates on the road at the end of last year, she said, the pace for renewals and new issues is ahead of that for the expiring “Buffalo” series, which started in 2005.

Fewer people may be able to drive now with JAYHAWK or other popular messages on their plates, but the biggest limitation to renewals appears to be financial, Alldritt said.

“Money’s tight,” she said. “They don’t want to pay the $46 reservation fee. And some of them just flat don’t like the design.”

Even so, Alldritt said, “We think the number of people who have ordered is just incredible.”

The state opted to prohibit “duplicate” plates, in part, because the department is using a new computer system to coordinate data from county treasurer’s offices, law enforcement agencies and other vehicle-related information systems.

And eliminating the more than 31,000 duplicate plates on the road should help clear things up for the Kansas Highway patrol, county sheriffs and local police, said Freda Warfield, a spokeswoman for the revenue department.

“It’s easier to find one JAYHAWK than it is to find 105 JAYHAWKs,” Warfield said.

Butch Moore, who hadn’t been in the market for a personalized plate until this year, said the new rules almost kept him out.

His first attempt — BEATNIK — already had been claimed by at least one other vehicle owner in the state, so he moved onto another option. Then another. And another.

After repeated attempts online and in person at the Douglas County Courthouse to secure an appropriate message — “I went down there with 20 or 30 different ideas for a license tag,” he said, “but each time they would say, ‘Nope, that one’s already taken” — the Lawrence resident finally found a plate for his 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air.

The winner: KUSTM54.

“I just had to get creative with the spelling,” he said. “They should’ve spelled custom with a ‘k’ anyway.”

In Douglas County, 925 orders have come in so far for personalized plates using the new “America’s Heartland” design, said Paula Gilchrist, county treasurer. A few already are out on the streets, but most will be picked up as registration renewals approach each month through the end of the year.

Gilchrist’s office heard plenty of complaints as word of the message restrictions got out, she said, but many customers have sought out and found alternatives that fit their budgets and personal tastes.

“People are far more creative than I am,” she said.


Joe Hyde 7 years, 11 months ago

I'm another who learned recently that I'll soon be losing my personalized tag due to this law change. Like Ms. Nelson, I was sad and disappointed by the news. However, and again like her, I eventually figured what the heck, it'll save me forty-five bucks to go with just a standard license plate.

Another thing: Until notified of this law change I was unaware that the spelling of my personalized tag was allowed to be duplicated on one each vehicle registered in each of our 105 Kansas counties. So I can definitely appreciate why the personalized license law did get changed: computer checks on license plates that get run by law enforcement will soon be much more accurate in terms of the officers knowing exactly who is the owner of the "personalized" vehicle they're making the inquiry about. It'll remove a lot of uncertainty from their jobs.

It's also good news that the demand for personalized plates hasn't dropped off. This means the state will not see any income loss from this registration activity. And it also means there'll be even more inventiveness showing up in the tags themselves. "De-coding" people's personalized tags is such an entertaining thing to do.

Bob Burton 7 years, 11 months ago


You could get a personal tag with just 5 numbers or letters for your car, truck & motorcycle.. This is 315 plates that all say the same thing.. Only thing that made them different was the county sticker.. Now you will not need a county sticker because every tag will be a 1 of a kind..

classclown 7 years, 11 months ago

Interesting how there are more people in the state of Kansas have Husker tags than there are people with jayhawk tags.

Bailey Perkins 7 years, 11 months ago

I fail to see why this comes as a surprise to people. My mom was informed about this well over a year ago and passed the news onto me just so I would not lose my tag. It makes everything easier for people plus it is nice to know that you officially own that statement in the state of KS. Especially when it is something more than redneck, huskers, etc. When your tag is a symbol of who you are as an individual, you have a right to own it for creativities sake.

JustNoticed 7 years, 11 months ago

Kansas Girl, It's "creativity's sake", the possessive form, not the plural.

jumpin_catfish 7 years, 11 months ago

Oh look at me I'm special, I have a message, notice me.

Leslie Swearingen 7 years, 11 months ago

JustNoticed, Get a life! Who cares about grammer? Geeze! catfish, yes people are individual and different. Some of us enjoy being creative.

Leslie Swearingen 7 years, 11 months ago

JustNoticed, Get a life! Who cares about grammer? Geeze! catfish, yes people are individual and different. Some of us enjoy being creative.

Bladerunner 7 years, 11 months ago

Finally! The Jayhawk tag will be just as popular as the Husker plate. One each.

davidsmom 7 years, 11 months ago

Being a Jayhawk fan in Kansas doesn't make you stand out, but being a Husker fan in Kansas is a little bit different...thus the personalized plate. I'm a Jayhawk fan and mom but never considered buying a personalized plate.

notajayhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

I had a high school teacher (I lived in another state then) who had to fight the DMV to get his vanity plates. He wanted his first initial and last name, but the department has a list of objectionable terms, including some phonetics, that they won't allow.

His name was Paul Hart.

MaryKatesPillStash 7 years, 11 months ago

Beo, how would eliminating vanity plates make cops' jobs easier?

jumpin_catfish 7 years, 11 months ago

......and if I did have a vanity plate it would say "hang up stupid"

SeaBee 7 years, 11 months ago

The state is starved for revenue and it just said "Goodbye" to how many dollars??

If I choose to have a personalized tag (with a number I can remember) and pay $50 a year for it what business is it of anyone else? I spend that much for beer each month.

When I bought my first car all 105 counties issued plates with the county designation and starting with the number 1 and continuing up from there. If 105 plates were issued staewide with the numbers 1 through 1000 (to be conservative) in those days and we survived it I'm amazed that the state can't handle it now.

Count the state'sbudget out my renewal fee.

truman1902 7 years, 11 months ago

OK, there are larger issues in the universe, but WHO'S designing the plates for our fair state?? Now the personalized plates are NOW as drab as the regular AD ASTRA plates which now adorn most of the vehicles in the land of OZ. Geez, is THIS as creative as we can manage?? I'll endure this current edition for now, but NEXT time the plates come up for a re-do, let's open this process up for an on-line poll to decide among several entries..I'm done!

Calliope877 7 years, 11 months ago

Vanity plates are stupid. As if anyone pays attention to what a friggin' plate says...I'm too busy driving.

notajayhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Multi, tell the truth - that's not meant to be a cactus, is it?


Curtis Lange 7 years, 11 months ago

I've had a couple personalized plates, but I'm using one of the blue plates (ugly freakin' design) right now. I'd love to have another personalized plate, but the new design is absolutely disgusting and will never grace the rear of my car. puke

BigPrune 7 years, 11 months ago

Why would a criminal have a vanity plate? How many criminals with vanity plates got law enforcement confused? How many recorded instances of confusion? Was the time and effort to eliminate multiple same name vanity plates in different counties worth it for the taxpayers? You would think with an expensive technology upgrade it would make distinguishing between "Jayhawk" in Douglas County and "Jayhawk" in Jefferson County a little easier.

Hoots 7 years, 11 months ago

I'm going to drop mine. Guess we're going to see many more tags that only mean something to the owner. Some plates you never can figure out. This change will have to hit the bottom line even more in these tough times.

truman1902 7 years, 11 months ago

Thanks Cheeseburger..I;ll pay closer attention to "plate election" down the road!!

trinity 7 years, 11 months ago

my vanity plate on my motorcycle is unique&i get to keep it, woot! :) and no, it probably doesn't mean a damn thing to anybody else-but it sure does to my family&me.

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