California DMV Thinks Car Terms Are Drug Terms, Refuses Personalized License Plate

I know DMVs aren’t necessarily staffed with gearheads or even anyone who necessarily gives a rat’s rectum about cars, but you’d think there’d be some people with at least a familiarity of car terms. You’d think, but it seems you’d be dreaming, based on this rejected personalized plate from the California DMV.

The plate request in question was, as you can see on the application, was CAN BUS. Since our readership is crammed full of car geeks, I’m sure most of you recognize that as referring to a car’s CAN bus, the electronic nervous system of a modern car.

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Actually, it doesn’t just refer to CAN bus, it flat-out says CAN bus. Unfortunately, the CA DMV things CAN bus “contains a reference to drugs,” and so they won’t approve the plate.

I see what they’re thinking; they’re assuming CAN BUS is a sort of sloppy alternate spelling of CANNABIS, I suppose. I suspect that if Roderick, the man who applied for the plate, really wanted to push it, he could easily convince them he deserves a CAN BUS plate, because this guy does a lot of CAN bus hacking.

In addition to writing a nice, comprehensive paper on the basics of CAN bus hacking, published by the SANS institute. Maybe more fun is this little video of how you can use the CAN bus to make everyone think your Honda Civic is really, really fast:

Interestingly, in the paper we can see that Michigan didn’t have the same confusion about what kind of drug a CAN bus is:

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Perhaps there’s more people familiar with the nuts and bolts of the auto industry in Michigan.

Really, of all the car-related stuff you could get on a plate, CAN BUS is pretty tame. 4ONDAFLR sounds way dirtier, for example.

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)