I’ve Always Wondered How People Get These License Plates

DSCN0548, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Maybe some of you have seen these plates before. They usually have just a three digit number with a blue border around the numbers. So who gets these special plates? Do they signify anything special?

20 Comment

  • The mayor gets to assign the numbers so you kinda have to be politically connected. He (or she) charges a fee for the plates and then uses them to fund his campaign. Kinda shady but legal.

  • It’s the mayor and the city council’s purview. Some are from the mayor and some are from councilmembers.

  • Several years back, my former principal was a friend of then mayor Marion Barry. She had a very low digit license plate on her Mercedes.

  • I have a three digit plate and I can tell you that I paid no fee to the mayor’s campaign for it. There is nothing shady about it.

  • Just the fact that the mayor and council members hand out these special plates is a little shady.

  • Be an ass kisser. Or someone who has funnelled alot of contracts/donations to your friends. Or someone on the recieving end of some of those funnelled contracts. With exceptions, these are the people that do little for the city. But need tags and such to make them feel special.

  • Well this explains why I have a 9 digit plate number

  • The lower the number you have the more special you are…at least in the minds of the politically connected….

  • wow, you guys are dumb

  • I thought that the low numbers were passed down in families??

  • It makes me feel 14 again every time I see DC plate “69” parked on my block, but I digress.

    It’s not just DC that does this — it is par for the course in a lot of states, typically with the plates going to public officials, and the lowest numbers going to the highest ranking ones. There are more than a few reasons they do it, but probably one of them is to let the state patrol/local cops know who they shouldn’t pull over/ticket on the street.

  • “Just J” is wrong. The low number plates are distibuted by the Mayor and the Council. The license holder is charged the vanity plate surcharge by the DMV. No money from the plates goes to campaign funds.

    Donors are more likely to get a low number, but there is nothing shady going on.

  • This is just so DC. If someone needs a low-number license plate to make themselves feel special, then they must have something terribly wrong with their self esteem. Maybe they should invest the vanity-plate surcharge in some therapy sessions instead.

  • to say “nothing shady is going on” is pretty naive. Sure, the person may not be bribing someone for a special plate, but I assure you that DC workers (esp police) get a lesson on how to treat drivers with this plates. Given that DC is a semi-patrimonial state, where your connection to leadership gets you privileges (like Ward funds), I think that yes, there probably is something shady going on.

    I’m a Fenty supporter, but think that this is definitely a legacy of the old school Home Rule types.

  • Folks need to make a distinction here between plates with low numbers and no blue box around them, which are just vanity plates – and plates with low numbers and a blue box around them. The ‘boxed’ plates are VIP/Mayor/Council/’connection’ distributed plates. I’m not sure if DPW/MPD are instructed not to ticket these vehicles, but I see a LOT of them parked illegally around here.

  • This is a very very old custom which as far as I know long-predates the existence of the DC Mayor. A friend of the family got his low-number plates because at some point around 1952 all of the people who worked at DC Televisions stations got them and he never let go of it, keeping the SAME EXACT LICENSE PLATES so long that he had stickers going back 20+ years on ancient plates. When he died Barry refused to let his wife keep those plates because they were distributed by the Mayor’s office.

  • Low-numbered plate = park anywhere without ticket. If you donate enough to the right local pol, you can get one too. No, nothing shady about this at all!

  • JinDC

    So the mayor (or council) gives out special tags which to people he or she so chooses. These same people are most likely to have made a political donation to their campaign. You dont think thats shady?

    Of course the fee doesnt go to the DMV and then to the campaign that would be way too obvious. However, I bet if the post did a study on when the tags were given out and when political donations were made you would see a strong correlation.

    I have a couple of relatives with low tags, they still get tickets like everyone else.

  • That looks like it could be Ted Loza’s car, who is Graham’s chief of staff. Either way, I know that he has a boxed plate.

  • A few years ago, one of the small DC papers did an article which listed the names of citizens to whom the mayor and councilmembers had sponsored for low number tags.

    I don’t recall who it was, but one noteable benefactor had angered Tony Williams, and when that person went for tag renewal, Williams had reassigned that person’s tag. It was written up in the WaPost. I vaguely recall that it was a clergymember with whom Williams had a publicized dispute.

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