88°Mostly Cloudy

New, ‘I Know Someone Political’, License Plates Hit the Streets

by Prince Of Petworth April 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm 33 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

Any idea about this license plate? expires in 2017, it says on the plate. so strange.”

Previously DC DMV has told us it is “a low tag, and they are assigned by the Mayor or the Council.”

Update: Another reader sends:

“Here’s a better shot of a different plate held by one of our lucky citizens that doesn’t omit the taxation wo representation logo.

Also, this website lists virtually all license plate and other quirks specific to the District. It is meticulously thorough and, oddly, run by some folks in Rhode Island.”


  • HillEast

    funny they wouldn’t say District of Columbia instead of the older Washington DC. seems like a step back.

    • Timebomb

      Yeah, weird decision. District of Columbia is so much more appropriate.
      Honestly, I want to start a petition to get media outlets to adopt “District of Columbia” instead of “Washington, DC” when speaking about local government matters.

  • Rob

    And the single letter plates…what’s up with them? Any info?

    • Jerry Seinfeld

      What’s the deal with airplane food, right?

    • DC1

      Probably just a vanity plate.

    • B

      Do you see a lot of single-letter plates? I’ve only spotted a few, leading me to believe that the entire alphabet hasn’t been issued.

  • Anonamom

    My neighbor just got one of these. What is a “low tag”?

    • Anonymous

      Political patronage. Your neighbor is “someone” in the realm of local DC politics.

      • Dan

        LOL; the Washington City Paper did an article last April 2015 entitled ‘All Plate Wards: Who Has D.C.’s Coveted (and Pointless) Low Number License Plates’. Many with these low numbered tags see it as some type of prestige or inner circle to local D.C. elected officials. Some have had these low numbered tags for years including Judges and family members to the Mayor and D.C. Councilmembers. Low number tags are 2, 3, and 4 digits. The number the numbers mean how well connected you are in the Wilson Building.

        • LittleBluePenguin


  • Dan

    I saw the new low numbered tags recently and I think they are ugly. Low numbered tags are issued by the Mayor and Councilmembers to their supporters, campaign donors, ANC Commissioners, or their buddies. Owners of these tags have to pay an additional fee of $50.00 and they have to reply each year providing a Councilmember or Mayor takes them away and give them to another individual. Former Councilmember Charlene Drew Jarvis had the low number tag 4 and she still has it to this day.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds like the vehicular equivalent of ordering bottle service in ‘da club.

      • Ben

        Virginia does the same thing.

  • jcm

    Bowser gave Adam Eidinger, the guy who lead the Initiative 71 signature drive, a low number tag with 420 on it.

  • madmonk28

    It’s the license plate equivalent of “do you know who I am? I’ll have your job if you write that ticket.”

    • anon

      No, they most certainly do NOT prevent you from getting a ticket. And it’s a $100 annual fee, not $50 (in response to a previous post).

  • DC1

    Fugly ones this year… I’m surprised Bowser didn’t stamp the “Muriel Bowser, Mayor” stamp all over.

    • Anonymous

      Or just have it embossed with her face on the plate

      • Angry Parakeet

        That made me laugh. I wish we could order them with the councilmember of our choice, and some would become collectibles: Kwame “Fully Loaded” Brown

  • DCRob

    The “SRX” plate frame takes out nearly half of the plate’s content. But at least this car’s owner ditched the dealer’s frame.

  • Philippe Lecheval

    Why do they always look like they were designed by someone’s nephew, or someone else with zero design experience or talent?

  • Sydney P

    Basically these tags broadcast, “I’m With Stupid.” So, like, uh, claaassy!

  • bruno

    This morning I saw No. 12 (might have been the inverse…21). I remember thinking, “That’s a new plate.”

    • bruno

      P.S. I rather like the design… I’ve also seen a DC plate sporting a kayaker. Something like Wild and Wonderful D.C. That, I thought, was a bit of a stretch. DC as West Virginia, or Montana.

      • B

        “Wild, Wonderful” is West Virginia’s license plate slogan. DC does have an optional, extra-cost plate with an image of kayakers, but it has the usual “Taxation without Representation” slogan. The fees contribute to the cleanup of the Anacostia River.

  • Charles

    I was stuck behind the prat with plate 100 this morning. The only thing that could make these plates more pointless is if they were issued to ATVs and dirtbikes,

  • Vered

    The numbered license plate is a low-cost gesture of thanks to someone who did something nice for the city. I have a friend who devoted much unpaid time and labor mounting exhibits of local artists’ work in City Hall over several years (this is back when it was an ugly, wretched, poorly lit, labyrinthine place that drastically needed injections of art). Her council member thanked her with a numbered license plate. She was proud of it and treasured it. It was an acknowledgement of her service.

    I don’t see anything wrong with that. Probably some members of the council and the executive branch abuse it from time to time, as some always will, but many use it to good purpose, rewarding public service at little to no cost to the taxpayers.

  • PCC

    Rhode Islanders are obsessed with low-numbered license plates. Apparently, RI lets you inherit license plates, so many of the low plates are held by descendants of the first families who first got cars there. Expired numbers were recycled as patronage favors. Plus, it’s a small enough state that you’re likely to see low numbers rolling around.

    • sproc

      Yep. My landlords when I lived there (lovely family, really!) had a low three digit plate on one of their cars that looked like a crushed beer can, but even though it was on an ancient diesel Jetta, was clearly a point of pride for them.

    • Longfellow

      Yeah, it’s a big deal in RI. For the exact reason you describe, whenever my mom sees a low number plate she mutters “asshole” to herself.

    • Former_Rhody

      All true except the expired numbers being recycled as patronage favors. They now put them into a lottery system (at least the 4- and 5-digit versions) and randomly select residents who put their name into the lottery. The low numbers are such a big deal, that Rhode Island changed its standard license plate nomenclature from two letters — three numbers to six numbers so that people would stop complaining. But, the idea is to get the lowest number possible.

    • dcd

      Does Rhode Island even need anything more that 5 digits for their plates?

      • dartagnan

        Low number license plates are also coveted by license plate collectors (such as myself). I don’t know why I care, I just do? I have one of the first issued DC environmental plates (1000 series) of which very few were issued. In fact when I went to the DMV to get them, the employees didn’t know they existed. They had to ask a supervisor who looked in a back closet for the plates.

        Also, responding to dcd – Rhode Island has more registered vehicles than DC has and we have standard issue 6 digit plates (with the letters). Delaware also has a robust market in low number license plates. Apparently you are actually allowed to “sell” your plate number. Sometimes people pay $1,000’s for them!

        Lastly, I also agree that I think it is strange that they moved back to putting “Washington DC” rather than “District of Columbia”. I also think it is a bit wasteful that these plates expire every year, meaning the 1,000 or so people with these plates need a new one every 31 of March.


Subscribe to our mailing list