What are the chances that this is random?

Illustration for article titled What are the chances that this is random?

Actually, hold on. I’ll tell you.

Washington state uses a 7 character license plate, formatted as ABC1234.

I, o and q allegedly will not be used in the 3rd position for standard plates. This is likely to avoid confusion with similar letters that would be placed next to it. I and 1, O and 0, Q and 0, etc. 


The die for the letter O and the number 0 are are the same, therefore two license plates that are the same besides an O/0 difference are not allowed.

Any combination that adheres to the above rules is fair game, so yes there is an aaa0000 floating around somewhere in Washington state, unless it’s been retired and is awaiting redeployment.


With the above taken into consideration....

The chances of the above plate being made randomly stands at 1 in 155,000,000. (no, I’m not accounting for the plates made since the 7 digit format was created around ten years ago or the fact that there is a convoluted County-based system in place for deciding the order of plate numbers in the state. I COULD.... But I don’t feel like mathing that hard.)


While the plate follows the ABC1234 format correctly, my guess is that someone had it custom made and purposely had it look like it was “by chance”.

However... There’s one way to tell for sure. Washington state switched over to screenprinting their vanity plates north of a decade ago, while standard plates are still embossed. From the pictures... Well. I can’t really make it out. Our state does a pretty good job of matching the screened plates to the embossed plates whearas in a lot of other states that have gone this route, the difference is quite stark.


With that said, if you happen to see this ATG9420 plate around... Report back for us.

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