Personalized license plates show spunk in Utah

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Utah drivers are turning to personalized license plates to express their interests, identities and purposes at a glance. Charlie Roberts, public information officer at the Utah State Tax Commission, said there are currently 51,000 personalized license plates registered in Utah.

Susan Wheatley's abbreviated name is on her license plate as "SUWHEAT." (Susan Wheatley)
Susan Wheatley’s abbreviated name is on her license plate as “SUWHEAT.” (Susan Wheatley)

Rachel Wheatley, a BYU student, enjoys discovering what license plates can tell about others. “More and more people are getting them,” she said. “It’s fun to see what people say. Even when you don’t know (someone), a personalized plate tells a story.”

Wheatley’s license plate says “YOUNGLV,” referencing the Donny Osmond song “Young Love.” Friends used the song title as a nickname for her in high school, and it became her signature in texts to friends. She chose to put it on her license plate because it had become a part of her personality.

Personalizing license plates is a family tradition for the Wheatleys. Rachel Wheatley and her parents, Durrell and Susan Wheatley, have used personalized license plates for eight years.

Durrell Wheatley’s license plate also has his nickname, “CLUELSS.” Susan Wheatley’s shows her name, shortened, saying, “SUWHEAT.”

“It’s kind of a mind game,” Rachel Wheatley said. “Because people just think it’s spelling ‘sweet,’ but it’s really her name.”

The Utah DMV website recognizes a few reasons for personalized plates. It lists common types of personalized plates, like plates that show support for a sports team or displaying a hobby. Plates can contain nicknames or variations in a person’s job title. They can also make a statement.

Steve Vawdrey, a bishop in the BYU Married Student 2nd Stake, has a personalized plate on his family van. His goal in having the plate is to share a good message, but it started with his and his wife’s focus on teaching their children.

When he and his family lived in Illinois they were encouraged to come up with a family statement. They came up with “go and do.”

The Vawdrey family now has the saying on their van’s license plate as “GO N DO.” Vawdrey said it’s a nice conversation piece. People ask what it means or even sometimes confuse it as one word, “GONDO.” Vawdrey takes opportunities like this to spread goodness and explain that it’s something he and his wife try to teach his children about how to be like Jesus Christ.

Drivers from Utah can get personalized license plates for a fee and by filling out an application form here. The DMV does not allow for plates that express vulgar, obscene, hateful, defamatory or sexual content in general. Interested applicants can see the specific regulations on the website.

The standard license plate and plates for motorcycles cost $58 each. Drivers need to pay $10 yearly on top of their regular registration fees. Standard plates have up to seven characters. The special group license plate has up to five. Motorcycle plates can have up to four.

Drivers can expect to receive their plates within four weeks of ordering them.

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