5 On Your Side

Uncommon NC license plate sparks confusion

Posted February 24
Updated March 2

So many cars, so many license plates. But like a social security number, phone number or address, a license plate number should be unique.

Amy Martin has a pretty uncommon North Carolina license plate.

"I just love Dr. Who and that he says 'allons-y','" Martin said.

The French phrase, made popular by the British TV series, means "let's go!"

"I thought maybe someone would have something similar, but never the exact same tag," Martin said.

In May, Martin visited the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle's website and plugged in different combinations of numbers and letters to make her custom license plate. Using a 5 instead of a S, she created her license plate. It read ALLON5-Y.

But, in the fall, she received a bill from NC Quick Pass.

"I went online because I was going to pay it, although I couldn't remember actually having used the toll way," Martin said.

Martin drives a black Honda Civic, but she said the picture online was of a Saturn Vue with the exact same North Carolina license plate.

"My jaw dropped," she said. "I was like 'what?' I went out to check my car. I was like maybe someone stole my plate."

It turned out, the other plate had expired in 2014. Under DMV rules, any personalized plate that is not renewed becomes available after 90 days.

"I would hate to think, you know if something happened, if the other person with this plate were to get into an accident or a hit-and-run, and a witness saw the license plate (that) they would come looking for me," Martin said.

Five on Your Side reached out to the DMV. The agency said the case was a first for them, and contacted the other driver who tuned in the expired tag.

"I think it's crazy. I mean, it's nice to know there is another Dr. Who fan out there with excellent taste in license plates," she said.

The DOT told 5 on Your Side that there is not a penalty for driving with an expired license plate, unless the driver is stopped by law enforcement, then a person can be ticketed.

7 Comments

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  • Fanny Chmelar Mar 7, 2016
    user avatar

    "Five on Your Side reached out to the DMV. The agency said the case was a first for them, and contacted the other driver who tuned in the expired tag, and then returned back home and tuned in for more Dr. Who."

  • Sara Hauser Mar 7, 2016
    user avatar

    Hope they turned it in, not "tuned" it in -2nd grade proofreaders strike again.

  • Jerry Powell Mar 3, 2016
    user avatar

    The DOT told 5 on Your Side that there is not a penalty for driving with an expired license plate, unless the driver is stopped by law enforcement, then a person can be ticketed.
    Read more at http://www.wral.com/5oys/15419363/#I63tepOXtBDf4IzG.99

    Then they go get a new sticker and go to the DA and it gets dismissed for "compliance" All that (just like the Taxes and Tags Together) just puts the burden onto Law Enforcement and the courts to ensure that the $$$ rolls into DMV at the expense of the other agencies. Maybe "investigative journalist" could see just exactly how many tens of thousands of charges were dismissed and how many millions of dollar in court costs and fines (that would go to the schools) are lost through "compliance".

  • Nick LeBon Mar 3, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    I have never turned in a plate for any vehicle I've sold and never had a problem. I always keep the plate and nail it to a wall in a barn on my parents place with all the other plates. It is a tradition my grand parents started. There are plates on that wall dating back to the 50s.

  • Phillip Mozingo Mar 3, 2016
    user avatar

    That is an outright lie! I sold a car a couple of years ago and forgot to turn the tag in. I was informed that until I turned the tag in that I was still being billed for the taxes on the car. Has this guy quit paying his taxes? There is more to this story.

  • James Barefoot Mar 3, 2016
    user avatar

    Pulling a car over for missing or old tag would be profiling . Watching tags is a hobby of mine, Start looking closer. Keep track and see, 30 day temps way out of date, NO Tag, Clearly Fake tags,

  • Mark Cooper Mar 3, 2016
    user avatar

    How the heck does a car ride around for 2 years as expired and never get pulled and tag confiscated? Maybe the SHP needs an eye exam, or maybe even better and use some common sense. If the expired version of the tag has not been reported lost or turned into the DMV then maybe you should not re-issue that one.