Danny White has had vanity license plates on his car for 25 years. But it’s almost as though the Washington, D.C. resident has no plates at all. That’s because White’s plates, which read “NO TAGS,” mirror the district’s official ticketing code for a car that doesn’t have proper plates attached.
He’s received an estimated $20,000 in tickets – none of them his. When police draft a ticket for a car without license plates, they fill out the plate number field with the phrase “NO TAGS.” And when that ticket is processed by the district, it’s matched up to White’s car. White’s mailbox is essentially the overflow bin for tickets on the city’s delinquent vehicles.
White initially purchased his “NO TAGS” plates jokingly, but the tickets that he receives each month are enough to wipe away any fun. “I’ve got enough tickets here to plaster my whole car,” White told NBC4 Washington. White’s frequent pilgrimages to court to get the tickets wiped are about the most of his troubles. He simply has to show that he drives a Chevy Avalanche, and the multitude of tickets written for Hondas and Fords disappear. But the courts scrutinize any ticket written for a Chevy, because, after all, the plate number does match his car. His record is pages long for tickets he never should have received.
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Local DMVs have a list of banned tags for various reasons: they’re profane, contain innuendo, or mirror those of the authorities – some states even ban plates that they merely think are dirty. D.C. didn’t put a stop to White’s plates even though they contained an official phrase. But after getting wind of White’s story, Washington DMV director Lucinda Babers sent a notice to all ticket writing agencies explaining they shouldn’t use “NO TAGS” or “NONE” when a vehicle has improper plates. Instead, they should use the last six digits of the car’s VIN number, along with an XX for the state. This new protocol will, in theory, put a stop to the crush of tickets flooding into White’s mailbox.
But it may not be the vindication White was hoping for. In addition to the new ticket policy, the DMV might recall White’s tags to avoid potential confusion in the future. White might finally get tags that register in the system as proper tags.