Alaska Number Plate News

There’s no question Alaska drivers love personalized license plates. One in 20 Alaska vehicles has them, according to a recent survey by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, ranking the state 13th in the nation.

Some plates are a mystery. Some are good for a laugh. But what happens when they have the potential to offend? That’s when the DMV steps in. The Division of Motor Vehicles in Anchorage has a team of expert decoders who go through every personalized plate application to nix the obscene, the offensive and the racially discriminatory. It isn’t an easy job.

“I don’t think people realize what a process it is,” said Shelly Mellot, one of the heads of a team of six screeners. Mellot says the committee often considers a younger audience when making decisions.

“How would I feel if my 10-year-old saw that?” she said. “Or asked me, ‘What does that mean?’ ”


Of the roughly 130 applications per week, the committee turns down two or three, said office manager Oscar Zapata, the other head of the team.

They must have a majority “no” vote to have the plates kept off the road. People have different standards of what’s OK. Some plates barely squeak through. In May, BUCWLD made it. ORGZMC did not.

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