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COVID-19 vanity plates among Ont. rejects

October 6, 2020

WARNING: This story contains graphic language that may offend some.

When it comes to the pandemic, the province isn’t amused by some recent personalized plate licence requests.

According to a recent story by CBC News, COVID-related submissions are among the thousands of requests rejected by the Ministry of Transportation over the past year.

The Ontario government rejected 3,887 of these plates between May 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, including many variations of COVID-related plate names, the CBC reported. Those include COVID, COVID 19, COVID NO, NO COVID, COVIID19, CVD19, CVID19, 0COVID19, FKCOVID and FKCOVD19.

Other rejected requests misspelled the virus: (KOVID 19, NO KOVID, COVET 19), calling it CORONA V or using roman numerals (COVIDXIX).

Pandemic references also didn’t make the cut. Among those were plate requests for PANDEMIK, PAND3MIC, THEVIRUS and MOISTLY, likely a reference to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's news conference misspeak when talking about how masks prevent people from "speaking moistly", the CBC reported.

According the Ministry of Transportation’s website, plates are rejected for a number of reasons. The province believes all COVID-19 plates have been rejected at this point.

"COVID-19 is a global pandemic with socio-economic and political impacts affecting millions of people," wrote Matteo Guinci in an email from Ontario's Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, who provided the list of rejections to CBC.

"Although the messaging may not be objectionable to some people, it may be upsetting or offensive to others."

A breakdown of why some of plates were rejected, according to CBC, fall into different categories. Some of the most notable were:

Abusive, obscene language and derogatory slang

  • AREUDUMB, EFCANCER, H3LLYEAH, IHATE401, LMAO JK, LMAOOO, MEANGRL2, MEANGRLS, MEANGRLZ, SCRWCNCR.

Drugs and alcohol

  • 420BLAZE, CANNIBUS, DANK DAD, H3NNESSY, HANGOV3R, IMPAIRED, LUV KUSH, PSYKDLIC, S4NGRI4, STON3R.

Human rights discrimination

  • FATNSASY, DAFATBOI, H8BRUINS, HABS H8R, HATEFUL8, HILLBLY1, M3ANGLRZ, OKBOOMER, REDDNEKK, SHETHICK.

Sexual (and eliminatory functions)

  • A WEEWEE, CRAPPER, DR PP, FARTER, GOT POOP, I C POOP, MYCIALIS, PISS, SNDNUDE5, UNAUGHTY.

Political figures, dignitaries and law enforcement officials

This category included multiple plates, which had the terms police, OPP, RCMP and TPS on them, an abbreviation for Toronto Police Service.

  • CERB, CLL91ONE, CNN LIES, GADDAFI, HATE GAS, INFOWARS, MASK ON, NO2WAR, TAXSSUCK, THX CERB.

Violence and criminal activity

  • AMMO BOX, BOMBERS, CHOPPA, DEATHPRF, DRTYMNEY, GANGWAR, GDFATHR1, KLLR WGN, MOLOTOV, PONISHER.

The most common rejections were related to clarity and readability, plates which the province have decided are too difficult to read. Many were related to plates using numbers to spell a phrase instead of letters.

5UPERDAD, ANX1OU5, G4M3OV3R, RAVNCL4W and W4RT H0G were turned down for that reason along with Ontario sports references, including: TIC4TS, R4PS IN6, R4PSN6IX and R4PTRS.

Plates with too many of the same letters were also rejected.

Religious grounds were another reason. References to the devil, evil, heaven and hell didn’t make the cut, including one that said ALTARBOY.

Gospel passages were taboo too, like MARK 9 23 and LUKE 51.

Provincial staff review requests when personalized plates are submitted. In some cases, those get escalated if they think the plate might break the criteria. The plate then goes to a group called the Personalized Licence Plate Review Committee. It meets once a week to sort through questionable plates.

Six people sit on the committee, two from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and four from Service Ontario. They all have to unanimously agree on approving or denying a plate. News articles and online dictionaries are used to figure out why a requested plate may not make the cut.

If the committee can’t agree, it gets further escalated to a manager from the MTO and Service Ontario. CBC News requested an interview with a committee member but was rejected.

Meanwhile, during the same time period of May 1, 2019, to May 31, 2020, 29,469 personalized plates were approved.

If a plate gets rejected, the requester can always ask for reconsideration.

RELATED READING: Man's vanity plate deemed offensive