No decisions yet if cars’ plates will go to eight characters

Q. I’ve noticed that cars in California are now getting issued sequential license plates that begin with a “9” – what is the plan once we get to 9ZZZ999? Will license plates get bigger and expand to eight characters, will the sequence start over in reverse order, or does the Department of Motor Vehicles have another plan in place? I couldn’t find anything online and was curious if you knew the answer.

– Aaron Bensoua, Costa Mesa

A. Honk doesn’t, because what the future holds is murky.

“We’re still exploring options,” said Chris Orrock, a DMV spokesman, told Honk. “We haven’t made a decision yet.”

As Aaron knows, sequential license plates are the standard-issue ones for cars that follow an alphanumeric pattern: one number, three letters, and then three numbers.

Orrock pointed out that by just tweaking that order, California could buy more time before adding an eighth character.

Aaron’s question isn’t as unusual as you might think – this is a common query that plops into Honk’s electronic mailbag, and Orrock said other media outlets have recently inquired about the topic, too.

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HONKIN’ UPDATE: Digital license plates, which can be battery powered to create a slick-looking, matte appearance, are here to stay. Late last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law, the culmination of a years-long effort by the DMV to offer motorists options.

Reviver, a firm based in Granite Bay, northeast of Sacramento, said it sold 10,000 white-and-black plates during the pilot program.

The digital plate goes on the rear, while a conventional one is required on the front. They are always visible, even when the vehicle is not in use. Certain slogans can be on the plates, such as “LOOKING FOR A TRAIL.”

Co-founder Neville Boston has told Honk in the past that different colors could be on the way. So could new slogans. “READ HONK OR ELSE” would be a good addition.

Everything must be DMV approved.

A Reviver plate starts at $19.95 a month. Expect competitors to get DMV approval and jump into the market.

HONKIN’ FACT: There aren’t many mugs Honk would pay to put on his rear license plate. But if he lived in Tennessee, he just might fork over the $61.50 a year to get the new specialty plate with Dolly Parton‘s face on it for the Honkmobile. Of that state fee, $35 goes to Dolly’s child literacy program, Imagination Library. She’s a good egg – Mrs. Honk wouldn’t mind. (Source: state of Tennessee.)

To ask Honk questions, reach him at He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

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