Way back in 1964, a Supreme Court justice named Potter Stewart explained, after an argument before the high court about obscenity, that while he might not be able to define the parameters of the definition, "I know it when I see it."

That's pretty much the case when it comes to vanity license plates here in Illinois, and throughout the rest of the country. They can't tell you what's offensive until they find it offensive.

Something that you might find hilarious on someone's license plate is probably making someone else angry, upset, or uncomfortable. Since we can't put requested vanity plates up for a popular vote, we have to rely on a small group of people in the Illinois Secretary of State's Vehicle Services Department to make the call: Is it offensive or not?

Hawaii is apparently cool with most things.

Getty Images
I'm guessing it's a stick-shift. (Getty Images)

Maybe You've Never Wanted To "Push The Envelope" With The Wording On Your Illinois Vanity Plates, But Some People Most Certainly Have---And Gotten Rejected

Here's the thing about vanity plates; Illinois has one of the highest percentages of vanity plates in the country, but at 13%, that still leaves 87% of us in this state who couldn't care less about them (or, don't want to pay the premium attached to them).

In 2022, 54,236 Illinoisans requested vanity/personalized plates, and 383 were informed that it's not going to happen for them because what they wanted was "tawdry, lewd, offensive, or too hard to read."


"We love the creativity and pride Illinoisans take in choosing their personalized license plates," said Secretary Giannoulias. "Most plate requests are approved, but a small percentage fail to meet the standards of good taste and decency and are rejected because they violate the state's vehicle code."

Secretary Giannoulias said his office maintains an ever-growing rejection list, which currently stands at more than 7,000 license plate combinations deemed offensive or difficult to read.

That's offensive if you're really only a 7. (Getty Images)
That's offensive if you're really only a 7. (Getty Images)

Here Are A Few Illinois Vanity Plate Requests That Just Didn't Make The Secretary Of State's "Accepted List"

In no particular order, let's take a look at what our fellow Illinoisans thought would look cool on their vehicles:


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Looking around the country, it appears that Illinois isn't the only state slapping down certain vanity plates:

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Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

Read on to learn the average life expectancy in each state.

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