Here's the story of how a BMW owner spent the better part of a year driving around with license plates assigned to a Honda last registered in the 90s. He'd still have the "stolen" vanity plates — sent to him by the New York DMV — if it weren't for two run-ins with Johnny Law.
Around February 2011, I decided to get BMWCCA plates for my E39. I chose (knowingly) "B88B8B" (Bravo Eight Eight Bravo Eight Bravo). We all know why I chose that combination of letters and numbers (To thwart the law by causing a ticket-writing glitch, right? — ed). The online ordering process on the NYS DMV website went easily and my plates and new registration arrived a few weeks later.
Fast forward to August 3rd, my fiancee and I take a trip up to the Catskills for an overnight getaway. The next morning, on the way back to the Bronx, I get pulled over for speeding (73 in a 55) in the Catskills. Prior to giving me the ticket, the officer tells me that the license plate comes back expired in the 1900's, to which my immediate expression was "ohshitwhatthefuckdmv." I told him I had just gotten them from the DMV earlier in the year and before he asks, I tell him to run [my old plate number], which he did and everything came back okay, so off I went with my new speeding ticket.
I figured it was just a glitch in the system, so I let it be, since I would be going to the DMV to renew my registration on October 21st anyways (the day it expired). However, on October 19th, as I was leaving the house to go pick up my fiancee at work (was raining that day and she had no umbrella), I get pulled over again, this time by an NYPD van that had been tailing me for almost 4 blocks. The officer informs me that my license plates come back expired and not registered to my car...GIANT GULP right here. I tell the officer that I have been informed prior when I got pulled over for speeding upstate, but figured it was a glitch and that I would be getting it fixed when I renewed my registration on October 21st. After a few more minutes and multiple times of me insuring him that I had my old plates at home, he lets me go with a verbal warning to get my plates changed.
On October 21st, I go to the DMV to get my registration renewed and fix the issue with my plates. The DMV attendant informs me that my B88B8B plates are registered to a Honda Civic in Queens and had expired in the '90s.
At this point, I forcefully ask, "so, because of the DMV I've been driving around with stolen and expired plates?" - to which the attendants answer is "yes". After a few unsuccessful tries to get the B88B8B plates registered to my car, the attendant calls a supervisor over, who takes the plates to a back room and calls (I'm guessing, headquarters). He comes back after a few minutes and says that I cannot register these plates and that I had been sent them by some mistake in processing. So I re-register my old plates and they give me a form to mail in in order to get my $90 fee I paid for the B88B8B plates reimbursed.
Tsk tsk NYC DMV