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Maryland's License Plates Rank High In Survey, D.C. And Virginia's Fare Poorly

Maryland's license plate: pretty attractive.
Maryland's license plate: pretty attractive.

A license plate isn't merely a means to identify cars, but also a way to express a state's particular identity. And according to a survey from one insurance company, some states do better in expressing those identities in an attractive way.

The survey from CarInsurance.com ranked state license plates on how attractive they are, and Wyoming's iconic bucking horse silhouetted against a blue Teton Range took top honors. Delaware's plain yellow-on-blue license plate ended up on the other end of the list, placing last among the 50 states and District of Columbia.

Locally, Maryland's license plate — which features an image of the American flag over Fort McHenry, meant to commemorate the War of 1812 — fared best, placing 14th. D.C. and Virginia did much more poorly, though. D.C.'s red, blue and white "Taxation Without Representation" tags only mustered 44th place, while Virginia's minimalist blue-on-white came in at 47th.

Virginia's low placing could well be subject to debate, though, as the commonwealth offers motorists over 200 specialized license plate options — including plates celebrating natural destinations (like the Blue Ridge Parkway), political causes (like the Tea Party), hobbies (like horse-back riding), and even professions (like realtors).

According to a 2007 survey by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, one-sixth of Virginia drivers opt for an alternative license plate — the highest proportion in the country.


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