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Fined For Offensive Personalised Number Plates

Woman in Wales Fined for ‘Offensive’ Personalised Number Plate

A woman from Tredegar in Wales was fined for displaying the offensive number plate ‘SL*T HO’ on her car. Toni Brand was stopped by the police in March after an officer spotted the offending registration number on her Volkswagen Scirocco. She said she only bought the plate “to make people smile” and believes very few people would be offended by it.

Toni was inspired after spotting a wedding car with the word ‘TART’ on its number plate. She said, "I went on the DVLA website and was messing about, typing in loads of different things. When I saw the SL*T HO one, it was one of those things I had to have." The personalised plate cost her around £500 plus fees to register the number.

The actual registration number she bought is ‘SL11 THO’, which is not on the DVLA’s banned list, but she had the spacing changed and paid a garage £20 to put a screw between the two ‘1s’ on each plate to make them look like a ‘U’ to create the offensive message. She said the mechanics had a ‘giggle’ when she asked for the changes.

Toni said that after the suicide of her 21year-old son in 2019, she had to learn to live and to smile again. She added, "It's taught my family so much — to be strong, to live life, to smile and say hello to people, to spread cheer. And that's why I bought the plate. It brought me joy every time I walked out the front door. Life is short and I'm not going to die unhappy." She’d had the plates for around eight or nine months and says everyone smiles and beeps at her, and her kids wave out of the windows.

At Cardiff Magistrates Court, Toni was found guilty of breaching vehicle regulations. She was ordered to pay a £220 fine, a £34 victim surcharge, and £90 in costs. As well as displaying offensive plates, she had the plates altered in order to spell out the message, which is against the law.

It’s Illegal to Alter Number Plates

In the past, you could buy number plates and alter the spacing to make the digits and letters spell out your name or a saucy message. You could have different sized plates and use fancy fonts to truly personalise your private plates. But, since the introduction of ANPR camera technology, the UK’s number plates have to conform to strict regulations to ensure they can easily be read by police officers and cameras.

Many drivers still buy illegal plates or change them to make them look the way they want, or even remove them altogether fi they spoil the look of their flashy car. In a survey last year, changing the digits on number plates came top of the list of dodgy car alterations.

To be sure you’re not committing any number plate offences, you should only buy your plates from a registered number plate supplier such as CarReg. Once you’ve got your treasured plates don’t alter them in any way or you could face a fine and even have them confiscated.