More than 7 dirty words you won’t find on a Kansas license plate

Updated: 2013-03-05T21:22:43Z

By Deb Gruver

The Wichita Eagle

Kansans have made some creative (CRE8VE) attempts over the years to buck the state’s list of banned personalized license plates.

Drivers in the Sunflower (SUNFLWR) State have been able to get personalized (VANITY) plates since 1975. The Kansas Department of Revenue’s Division of Vehicles has kept a list of no-no (BANNED) words ever since.

The list has almost 1,200 entries and is filled with your standard curse words, sexual innuendo, racial slurs, drug references and urban slang (OHMY).

Writing about a list of vulgar words represents somewhat of a challenge when your editor (WORDCOP) won’t let you use the words.

But here are a few examples:

• 420, a reference to marijuana, is banned.

• So is MURDER, as is REDRUM, which, as anyone who has seen the movie “The Shining” knows, is “murder” spelled backwards.

• Also banned are FANNY, FBI and HELLBOY.

Substituting “ph” for the letter “f,” for example, is a popular ploy. So is using numbers as letters, as in A55.

“They’ll go to all kinds of lengths to get around” the list, said Donna Shelite, director of vehicles.

Other banned plates are more difficult to figure out and need Google – or a seventh-grade boy – to decode.

“There are some I don’t understand,” Shelite said, laughing.

The state’s list is a mix of plates drivers have tried – unsuccessfully – to get as well as just common-sense guidelines.

The state also watches out for automatically generated plates that would be a problem, such as 123SEX, Shelite said.

Personalized plates can be up to seven letters or a combination of up to seven letters and numbers.

The state processes 61,000 applications for personalized plates every year. It rejects about 300 a year, Shelite said.

Plates also can land on the list if they’ve garnered complaints by other drivers. Shelite said she has handled only two complaints and thought, “Oh, my gosh, how did this get through, because I did know what it meant.”

Sedgwick County Treasurer Linda Kizzire said drivers who want personalized plates are asked to list three choices in order of preference and an explanation “as to what it means.”

The treasurer’s office then sends the applications to the state, which makes the decision about whether a plate will pass muster.

If the first choice is acceptable, the state makes that plate.

“If it’s objectionable, they then drop to the second choice,” said Jo Hillman, deputy treasurer.

Some people fill out only one choice, though.

If the plate is banned, the state will let them know.

Personalized plates cost $45 in addition to registration, regular fees and taxes.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or

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