California DMV To Motorists: Please Don't Ask For The Number 69 On Your Stupid Vanity Plate (Updated)

If you guys are really us, what number are we thinking of? Photo Credit: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Apologies if we’re late to this, but the California DMV has apparently had it up to here with your bullshit request for a 69 vanity plate. It says as much on the department’s website.


“The number ‘69' is reserved only for 1969 year model vehicles that the license plates will be placed upon,” the rule, under a section mandating that “you must acknowledge that you have read the following,” states.

Think that’s vague? Here’s another reference to it:


“Why did my license plate get denied?” Because you wanted 694EVA, that’s why.

We reached out to the DMV to figure out if there was a particular incident that goaded the department to add this, as well as how many requests for “69" license plates it gets annually. We’ll update if we hear back.


(H/T E.W. Niedermeyer’s tweet)

Update: Artemio Armenta, the California DMV’s public information officer, said in an email: “We do not track the number of requests for the number 69 on a license plate.” He then cited state law that outlined the stringent rules for personalized plate requests:


I would like to provide you with additional background. California state law requires DMV to make sure personalized plate requests comply with the following:

(D) The department (DMV) shall refuse any configuration that may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency, or which would be misleading, based on criteria which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

1. The configuration has a sexual connotation or is a term of lust or depravity.

2. The configuration is a vulgar term; a term of contempt, prejudice, or hostility; an insulting or degrading term; a racially degrading term; or an ethnically degrading term.

3. The configuration is a swear word or term considered profane, obscene, or repulsive.

4. The configuration has a negative connotation to a specific group.

5. The configuration misrepresents a law enforcement entity.

6. The configuration has been deleted from regular series license plates.

7. The configuration is a foreign or slang word or term, or is a phonetic spelling or mirror image of a word or term falling into the categories described in subdivisions 1. through 6. above.


In a separate email, Armenta added (his emphasis):

California Vehicle Code Section 5105 requires the following:


(a) An applicant for issuance of environmental license plates or renewal of such plates in the subsequent year pursuant to this article shall file an application therefor in such form and by such date as the department may require, indicating thereon the combination of letters or numbers, or both, requested as a registration number. There shall be no duplication of registration numbers, and the department may refuse to issue any combination of letters or numbers, or both, that may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency or which would be misleading or a duplication of license plates provided for in Article 8 (commencing with Section 5000) of Chapter 1 of Division 3.

(b) The department may cancel and order the return of any environmental license plate heretofore or hereafter issued, containing any combination of letters, or numbers, or both, which the department determines carries connotations offensive to good taste and decency or which would be misleading. Whenever the department orders any person to return any such environmental license plate containing any combination of letters or numbers, or both, which the department determines carries connotations offensive to good taste and decency or which would be misleading, the person so ordered may, in writing and within 10 days after receiving the order, demand a hearing, which shall be granted. The provisions of Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500), Part 1, Division 3, Title 2 of the Government Code, shall apply to hearings provided for in this subdivision. Any person ordered to return such plates shall either be reimbursed for any additional fees he paid for the plates pursuant to Section 5106 or 5108 for the registration year in which they are recalled, or be given, at no additional cost therefor, replacement environmental license plates, the issuance of which is in compliance with this code.


And then, in a follow up call, he clarified that that particular language has been on the DMV for several years, and said very matter of factly: “The reason to put it is to make sure people don’t request it.”

“It’s probably a number that is often requested, but we don’t track how many times,” he said. “I think people might tend to request that number often,” adding: “Yeah, it’s probably one of those phrases that someone would probably humor in requesting.”


Mystery solved.

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Ryan Felton

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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