Meet the Banned License Plate Task Force

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Secretary of State Jess White shows off samples of the new Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Cubs license plates.

    DEO DUCE, BBGTBAK and PAPICHU: Those are just a few of many vanity license plates you might find yourself trying to make sense of while stuck in traffic.

    But there are quite a few your eyes will never glance thanks to Candace Wanzo, Special Plates Administrator at the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office in Springfield. The department was created in the ‘80s when the reality that some Illinois resident’s idea of lighthearted or silly messages on their car had become more confusing or offensive than humorous.

    Wanzo's “Special Plate Inhibit List” contains over 4,500 entries and is growing every week.

    Wanzo's team tries to catch all the bad stuff, but some people can get downright creative.

    “Some of them just make me shake my head,” Wanzo told the Sun-Times. “I can’t believe individuals would actually pick some of these plates.”

    Wanzo explains that as they sift through the thousands of requests, they try to be sensitive to an individuals right to express themselves.

    However, when some requests are crude or demeaning, her power to deny the application is enforced. After all, there are also children in cars who are reading the plates. Keeping things clean is the main objective. Some inappropriate requests have slipped through the watchful eye of Wanzo and her crew.

    Plates that taunt the law, are profane, sexually explicit or have been concocted with letters making up offensive words in different languages have been reported on the road. The protocol for handling the unfitting plates, once discovered, is contact from Wanzo’s office to the owner of the plates.

    The owner is given an opportunity to respond before any decision is made. If the explanation just doesn’t fly or the plates are blatantly vile, they are then collected, shredded and recycled. IGOTCWT Sometimes the error is on the side of the state itself.

    “A few years ago we had to recall all the WTF plates ---- it was about 15 or 20 plates,” Wanzo told the Sun-Times. Nearly 1.25 million passenger vehicles in Illinois have personalized (letters and numbers) or vanity (just letters) custom plates. Less than 2 percent or about 150,000 of the requests are rejected. NYOFACE