New York State Unveils New Emoji License Plates

A rendering of a new New York State emoji vanity plate.
A rendering of a New York State emoji vanity plate.

The NYS DMV Custom Plates Unit this week announced plans to offer new options designed to entice Millennials to shell out extra cash for their license plates. In a move DMV officials call “innovative” and “first in the nation,” the state agency will begin taking orders for vanity plates featuring emoji in lieu of numbers and letters.

Vanity plates have long been a moneymaker for the DMV. In addition to the initial charge for personalized plates, which cost more than plates with random alphanumeric characters, drivers must pay an annual fee to keep them. But interest in custom license plates has waned in recent years, and DMV revenue has suffered as a result. 

With emoji plates, DMV commissioner Tom Lenon says he hopes to renew interest in personalization.

“Custom plates have lost their ‘cool factor’ among young people,” Lenon says in a written statement. “These new emoji plates will turn that around.”

And the DMV hopes the appeal will reach beyond Millennials. According to Lenon, more than half the applications for custom plates are rejected, because the plate is already taken. Motorists more often than not become discouraged and give up on purchasing custom plates. But emoji will offer new opportunities and countless options for fulfilling such requests. 

“FARMER, F4RM3R and FARIVIER were claimed decades ago, but now agronomists can celebrate their field of work with plates such as ‘Carrot Carrot Peas Eggplant Cucumber Cucumber Strawberry Tomato,’ and  ‘Corn Corn Corn Corn,’ Lenon states. “Animal lovers may have missed the boat on D0G and C4T plates, but now they can select from ‘smiley dog face,’ ‘winky cat face,’ ‘bird with tongue sticking out’ and even ‘grumpy cat.'”  

In addition to emoji, motorists will also have the option to use hashtags (#) and the “at” symbol (@) on their plates. “With these characters, if used right, motorists will be able to engage with each other through social media,” Lenon explains. “In the future, violent road rage incidents could be replaced by a snippy Twitter war or some harmless online bullying, and that’s better for everyone.”

Emoji vanity plate orders will begin January 1, 2016.

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