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Vanity License Plate Mix-Up Earns DC Resident $20,000 in Tickets

"It was funny at the time, but now it’s gone to the point, hey, I'm losing too much time off of this."

What started out as a simple joke has turned into a $20,000 pain in the neck wallet for one D.C. resident.

Danny White thought it would be a good gag to have his vanity license plates read, "NO TAGS." He told NBC Washington that he was "Just having fun!" and that "D.C. don't get the joke. They don't get it."

How has this turned into a thousands-of-dollars problem for him?

“Each time a car without proper identification is cited for a violation, a DMV employee enters "NO TAGS" into their paperwork. Because White's vanity plate is registered with the District of Columbia's DMV, his name and vehicle appear in the computer's system whenever a "NO TAGS" violation is entered,” writes Eric Pfeiffer for Yahoo! News. “Notices for the fines are then mailed to White's residence.”

See the news update via NBC Washington:

White drives a Chevrolet Avalanche truck. So, whenever a ticket arrives citing a non-Chevy vehicle, he doesn't have much trouble getting those dismissed. However, he isn't so lucky when tickets meant for someone else's Chevy come his way. He has to take time off of work to go to his local DMV, stand in what is always a long line, and try to sort things out.

"How do I prove it’s not mine?” White says he asked DMV employees. “They say, 'I don't know.' You don't know? It’s your system, figure it out. ‘I don't know’ isn't an answer. I got to get this done."

Because his record with the DMV is so long, White has been unable to register or renew his license. So he decided to contact a local news team to help him get things “squared away.”

“For two months, the News4 I-Team swam through an alphabet soup of government bureaucracy. D.C.’s DMV sent us to DPW, who sent us to DDOT, who sent us... back to the DMV,” NBC 4 reports. “Who told us the computers are not set up to red flag problematic tags like Danny’s.”

After White's local news station talked with DMV Director Lucinda Babers, she sent out a memo instructing all ticket writers that instead of writing “NO TAGS” or “NONE” for cars that lack proper ID, they must cite the last six digits of the cars Vehicle Identification Number and mark the state as “XX.”

"It was funny at the time, but now it’s gone to the point, hey, I'm losing too much time off of this," Danny said.

And despite what it has cost him in time to tried to get the ticket confusion corrected, White refuses to switch out his plates.

“Everybody asks that magic question!” he said. “‘Why don't you get rid of them?’”

He said he always responds, "'Are you going to buy me new tags?' They say, 'No.' I say, 'There's no need for me to buy tags I already have.' If you pay for it, I'll change them. If not, fix the computer."

However, White may have to get new tags whether he likes it or not: Babers told NBC 4 she’s considering recalling White’s tags along with any other confusing vanity plates to avoid similar problems altogether.

One last thing…
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