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WATCH | How custom license plates wind up on South Carolina's banned list

SC License Plate Sample (WCIV)

In South Carolina, there are more than 3,000 words, acronyms and initials that are off-limits for personalized license plates.

A quick look at the banned list has some eye-catching results: IamG0D, Scumbag, Weiner, Thrust, Weed, P0lice, just to name a few.

"I guess people just love the attention,” said Stephanie Chapman, who spends her fair share of time in traffic, like the rest of the Lowcountry. “I am constantly surprised at how many people there are who try and do things that are not smart."

The list was created more than 20 years. South Carolina plate supervisor Hermina Perkins-Brown says it continues to grow.

"Some of them you do sit back and you chuckle, and you say, really?" Perkins-Brown said.

The list is shared by DMVs across the country, so it's uncertain if someone in South Carolina actually requests some of the custom plates on the list.

Recently. the DMV says someone requested a plate with the word “racist."

"We want to make sure we are producing products that are not offensive. We want to satisfy our customers. We want them to be able to express themselves, but we also want to make sure we are not offending anyone in allowing them to do that,” said Perkins-Brown.

Staff says customized plates rarely get rejected. That's because applicants submit three options. Larry Murray, Director of Vehicle Services, says typically at least one of those submissions is not on the banned list.

“We are getting good at using websites to determine what certain acronyms mean. As you can imagine, there are certain letter combinations that you can text mean different things than they did three years ago,” said Murray.

One site they visit often clarify submissions is Urban Dictionary.

While the state doesn't keep track of how many people apply for a customized plate, the DMV’s two-person personalized plate team stays busy reviewing submissions.

Perkins-Brown says a recent social media post out of state tipped them off to be even more alert.

"We discovered that there were a group of folks that they were posting on Facebook plates they were trying to get through to certain DMV’s, so that kind of helped us out as well,” explained Perkins-Brown.

Driver Dianne Bradley says she's relieved to know they're monitored.

“We have small kids in the car, and when we drive and they read these things, they may think 'Why can’t we say these things if it can be on a license plate?'"

In the near future, the South Carolina DMV hopes to have an automated application process. Drivers would be able to go online and type in a phrase. The site would let the applicant know if the tag is available.

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