Number Plate Typefaces - Nick Ireland
With particular regard to speed cameras:-

a. Are the odd typefaces I see on some number plates legal under the Construction and Use regulations or whatever applies to number plates?

b. Can a digital speed camera read them ie the type that reads the number, goes to DVLA and then posts a ticket to the registered keeper (SPECS etc)?
Re: Number Plate Typefaces - Neil
The answers to the first question can be found at

From September 2001 non-standard number plate fonts will be illegal.

One would suspect that a digital speed camera with software which was unable to read the plate would flag the plate and the offence would be pursued manually. Perhaps the owner of the vehicle would expect not only a FPN for speeding but a fine for incorrectly displaying their vehicle's registration mark.
Re: Number Plate Typefaces - Neil
Here are the salient quotes regarding the changes:


However those motorists who have number plates that are not
substantially the same as the new mandatory font should
change them for plates that comply with new regulations.



Existing number plates need not be changed provided the font
used is substantially the same as the one shown above [in the website].

Number plates must be replaced if they have been customised

Stylised letters and figures such as italics
Number plate fixing bolts that alter the appearance of
the letters or numbers

Failure to replace such number plates may result in keepers
risking prosecution.


The reasons given for the changes are readability and memorability for Police (doing their job), public (witnesses who may need to remember), and cameras (evil spawn of the Devil).
Re: Number Plate Typefaces - Ian Cook
This is now my (very) personal view.

People who fiddle with the appearance of number plates do so for reasons of vanity.

There are enough instances of uninsured or untraced drivers to warrant a major clampdown in this area. Why? Because

1. Legal drivers pay for it through higher insurance premiums. In this respect, I pay for it - and I don't like it.

2. People get hurt and irresponsible persons who may have caused it, or who should be traced and held accountable, get away scot free. This is socially and morally unacceptable.

When the law changes in September I will personally report, to the police, any vehicle I see with a bastardised number plate.
Re: Number Plate Typefaces - Ashley
what about the oulets that make up and sell these number plates ? can they be prosecuted for making them up ? I know of several cars that have zero's as letters, with a large gap before the last two letters. I have a personalised number, but mine is set to the minimum gap between the letters and number. If i decided to alter mine i'd get stopped the first time i displayed them.

Re: Number Plate Typefaces - Andrew Bairsto
Surely the German system is best where you own the plates.The first two letters are the city the next letters and numbers for a small fee(25UKP) you can pick youself.The plates are made on the tax office premises they also carry the mot date shield and the emission date shield.To cancel your insurance you must provide a deregistration certificate ,and if you move address or to a different town you must also reregister your car.This system stops uninsured cars, the police can check ownership and who is permited to drive in seconds and non of this sale of private plates at stupid prices
Vanity. - David Woollard

I sort of know what you mean but would give a bit more leeway to sensible bending of plate displays.

If you are using "vanity" as a term of insult to those who chose their own plate I think it is a broader emotion/feeling than that which encourages people to do so.

Is it vanity to chose metallic paint or any specific colour, tinted glass, alloy wheels. Even in deciding on make/model the satisfaction gained from owning/driving/being seen in a particular car is a reasonable factor. So why not the number plate as well.

We have a personal number on retention at present as the car it would go on has etched windows with the current number. "Vanity" or nit-picking means I haven't come to terms with the number plates being different to all the glass.

Our number is of the A12 BCD pattern but looks loads better as A1 2BCD. I am not that much of a law breaker so the plates are slightly spaced to be A1 2 BCD. That is as near as I can show on the PC.

Thing is there are guys spinning about here (everywhere) at night driving stolen/untaxed/ no MOT cars with absolute disregard for the law. Often they are nicking your lawn mower/trailer as well. If you ever ended up in an accident with them and lived you'd get a punch on the nose for speaking out of turn. Now those are the sort of guys who need the full force of the law, not me carefully driving the kids to school at 50mph (open road) with a digit 25mm out of place.

Re: Vanity. - Ian Cook

I generally agree with your comments. I personnaly don't give a hoot for the number I am allocated and would not consider paying money to have a special one - but I don't begrudge others doing so. If this is attacking people's personal values (and choices) by labelling it "vanity" then I unreservedly apologise. There is no intention to offend.

We all choose what to spend our money on, excluding taxes that are taken according to someone else's agenda (we sort of get a choice, but we get robbed anyway), and in this sense a personal number plate is a choice which is down to the individual.

I suppose a key difference is that things like colour and alloy wheels are in the "temporary custody" of the owner, and will eventually pass to a new owner with a residual value. The particular choice may be compromised by an eye to the future value (HJ usually downrates "varicose vein blue" and "hearing aid beige") and some brave people choose outlandish (in my opinion) colours. The personal number plate stays with the original owner (chooser).

With regard to the digit spacing examples you cite, I don't see this as a problem because if you write down the digits on your plate it's quite obvious what the number is. Where I would draw the line is plates that are intended to deceive (use of black bolts and carefully selected typeface are prime examples) so that when read a different number is interpreted.

I do like this virtual pub!
Re: Vanity. - Darcy Kitchin
It'll be virtually your round then :-)
Re: Number Plate Typefaces - Andrew Moorey (Tune-Up Ltd.)
Where do you live Ian, I only want to know so I can avoid having to put new number plates on the Renault (M99REY) and my van T 2NUP !!!!!
Re: Number Plate Typefaces - John Slaughter
No problem if the spacing is right Andrew!


Re: Reporting offences - Stuart Bruce
I sympathise with your view but I fear you are wasting the time of yourself and the plod to which you report the offence. Plenty worse things to get worked up about. I remember reporting a car which had a bald tyre, carcass plies showing it was that bad, and was virtually told to sod off and stop wasting our time.
Re: Reporting offences - Brian
See also my post about it being a waste of time to report lost/abandoned cars.
Lawless doughnut eaters - David Lacey
This is EXACTLY the same attitude I have experienced with our friends at the local constabulary.
Bald tyres are far more dangerous to the general public than 'modified' number plates
But the 'Police' seem uninterested in tyre offences
Number plate offences must be easier to process I suppose....
Re: Mr Bairsto & His Love 4 Germany - Guy Lacey
I think Mr Bairsto should log on 2 German "HJ-esque" sites and refrain from answering *any* query on the Brit-HJ with "The way they do it in Germany is better because.............."

Frankly, I'm a bit sick of it.

Not quite as sick as I expect HJ regulars are of my constant reference to VW build quality and my show-winning LPG powered Golf GTI but there you go.
Bairsto vs Lacey (G). - David Woollard

Perhaps you should be forced to commute in a Citroen Xantia together for a week.

Actually make it something else, you might like the Xantia too much!

Re: Vanity. - Brian
I have no problem with personalised plates, in fact we got our daughter a K9 one for her 21st since she worked with, and loves, dogs.
However, incorrect spacing, misleading bolts, etc. should be stamped on hard, as it is essential that a number is immediately identifiable without having to work out whether, for example, a character is a "B" or a "13" closely spaced.
Bad plates should be an MOT failure, in any case.
Re: Vanity. - John Slaughter

It should be an MOT fail, but I believe the trick is to have a set of legal 'MOT only' plates. Judging by the number of dubious plates I see the police can't be bothered for the rest of the year.


Re: Vanity. - Neil
Quite often, it is the 'Cherished Mark' which is most memorable. The familiarity of the letter and number combinations forming a word or phrase is much easier to remember than a wholly random plate.

Misleading typefaces should be stamped down on, though.

Value my car