What’s the Story with Three Digit License Plates?

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“Dear PoPville,

I have seen this license plate now and then and I can never make out what it is. It definitely has a DC theme but I’m curious to know what these are all about. Does anyone have any information on this type of license plate?”

DC DMV tells us it is “a low tag, and they are assigned by the Mayor or the Council.” I guess it’s to reward political allies. Not the most impressive of rewards but I guess some folks like them.

We’ve previously spoken about other specialty license plates here.

24 Comment

  • Im pretty sure those are the latest “low # plates”

  • It’s the “I know the mayor, a council member, or are tight with one of their cronies” plate. The design changes periodically (with every administration maybe?). The last iteration had a red rose motif.

    • I assume that people want these as some kind of status symbol, but every time I see one, I just think, “Oh, another corrupt crony.”

    • ah

      They change annually so that you have to keep paying off the mayor or council on a regular basis in order to keep the status symbol.

      I believe there’s some allocation, with a few reserved for republican cronies.

  • I had on of those plates for a long time and they are kind of fun but a bit of a pain b/c they get renewed every year and you have to go to the DMV to renew them. The design changes every year but the now give you the option to keep the old one. They do have some special hours at the DMV just for low number plate people and they have a special desk to take care of the tag holders. You still get tickets. I think I’m happier being able to renew on line and not deal with them anymore.
    I got mine through the mayor’s office and I have them through William, Fenty and one year of Gray

    • they have special DMV hours for these things? fuck that. now we all know that there are tax dollars on the line for these things… for NO REASON.

      • I love my plate and the ease of going to the DMV without having to be around the riffraff. Yes, this is how the 1% does it…for multiple reasons

  • DC CapHill

    Whenever I see one, I think ‘Entitled Douche.’

    But that’s just me.

  • Someone once told me they were for the DC pro athletes. I don’t know if that person was correct, but that is one rumor…

  • My understanding is it is a harmless and costless way to recognize people who have performed some sort of unpaid service for the DC Council or DC Mayor. For example I have a friend who arranged exhibitions of the work of local artists at the Wilson building for years, gratis. She is a long-time arts educator and activist in the District and gave a great deal of time to these projects, mainly for the benefit of the artists. No one has a budget to fund that kind of activity. I don’t know all the details of how she was nominated her for a low-number license plate, but she received one some years back and is quite proud of it. I don’t see anything wrong with the practice at all. I wish people would hold back on the snark until they have a clue of what it’s all about.

    • ah

      I think your friend’s way to her plates is the exception not the rule.

    • “harmless and costless” – er, it’s clearly not costless!

      • Huh? How does it cost more? Why are you angry at the “costless” word she used? I don’t understand your logic.

    • One of my neighbors has one on his late-model Range Rover, and it’s clearly not because he did a lot of good deeds for the city. It’s because he donated a shit ton of money to the Fenty campaign, and now does to the Gray Administration. While some of these may be given out for recognizing outstanding citizenship, I’ve more often than not seen them on very expensive cars. Which makes me think they’re a “perk” for the rich and well-connected, and a particularly petty one at that.

  • i can’t wait until I get my Popville specialty plate

  • Important/Self deluded important people.

  • I think “Vered” had the best comment with the most insight. Everyone else speculated and it was annoying and not helpful.

  • This website run by license plate enthusiasts explains the entire story: http://dcplates.com/Low-Number.htm

  • jburka

    I have to admit, I’ve always liked the Porsche 911 that parks on 13th by U Street that has the “911” three-digit tag. Douchey? Yeah, pretty much. But still cool.

  • I personally really like the Mercedes Benz that always parks on Newton between 14th and 16th with the “69” plate.

  • I used to laugh every time I saw plate# 69, which was frequent, as the guy lived on my block at the time. It brought out the 14 year-old in me every time.

    This is not just in DC, btw, but many states have a variation on this theme of “important people” getting low # plates.

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