Drivers warned of ‘dire consequences’ for number plate mistake

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Private number plates are commonplace on UK roads, with many drivers choosing to get their initials or name on the yellow plaque. Few people realise that private number plates are more affordable than ever and readily available for anyone and everyone, regardless of employment or social status.

While it’s easier than ever before for drivers to get their hands on a personalised number plate, not every combination of letters and numbers is available. 

As a rule, the DVLA prohibits any registration numbers that could be seen as “too rude” or “too offensive”.

The registrations are issued twice a year, in March and September, but before this happens, the DLVA team searches through thousands of letter and number combinations to determine which could cause offence, pulling them from the system. 

In March 2022, the team removed 343 combinations, including YE22 WAR.

Although people can freely personalise their plate, it’s still a particularly important component of your car and should be treated as such; it gives a vehicle its own distinctive identity and provides information and history.

First, drivers need to buy their private number, either directly from the DVLA, at a DVLA auction, or from a private dealer or person. 

If they choose to go through an independent seller, it’s their responsibility to ensure that all the relevant documentation is genuine, including the Certificate of Entitlement (V750) and/or the retention document (V778).

Once this has been done, they must assign the new private plate to their vehicle and get the plate made from a registered supplier.

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If the plates do not meet specific requirements, the police can dish out fines of up to £1,000 to motorists and could even be seized.

Drivers will also fail their MOT test if their registration plates don’t meet the standards.

Michelle Rigler, Head of Portfolio at First Response Finance, said: “As industry veterans, we’ve seen a lot of mistakes made from people who personalise their registration plates, and the consequences can be dire.

“It’s a fun and quirky task for sure – but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously and via the legal routes. Failing to play by the rules could see you hit with a £1,000 fine.”

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Numbers and letters must be exactly 79 millimetres tall and there must be a space between the numbers that mark the year and the three random letters.

All registration plates must be in a specific “Charles Wright” font which has been in use since 2001.

These plates are known as “BS AU 145e” and meet the new British Standard for Retroreflective Number Plates.

The plates are made from a tougher material which makes them more resistant to abrasion and other damage.

This change was made to make it easier for Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to read the plate.

They also have to include the supplier’s business name and postcode, along with the name of the number plate manufacturer and the new standard.

There is no requirement for people to apply to the DVLA for a green number plate, as they can be obtained from a registered seller.

When obtaining a green plate, the vehicle keeper should provide documentation, such as a V5C to prove their entitlement to display the registration mark.

The new green plates were launched in 2020 as a marker to identify electric vehicles and are overseen by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles.

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