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Vulgar San Jose License Plate Overlooked By DMV's Rigid Research Process

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- A driver spotted recently in San Jose is going to have to get a new license plate after caught sporting one of the foulest, most vulgar phrases in the Vietnamese language.

The offending license plate, spelling out the Vietnamese translation of "F**k Your Mother," was seen in East San Jose. But when the driver was asked what the license plate means, he said "I love your mother."

KPIX 5 showed the license plate around San Jose, home to 130,000 Vietnamese people -- more than any other city in the country. The reaction ran the gamut, from disgust, to high-fives.

Watch the full video report.

When it comes to personalized license plates, DMV spokesman Jaime Garza said the department gets 500 applications a day from drivers who must explain and justify the meaning of the phrase.

Researchers then check it across 150 languages, using special dictionaries, online translators, and even the White House's drug lingo database, to weed out out drug and gang related terms or hidden sexual references.

But when they slip through, the department relies on public complaints.

"You saw one, in fact, in the San Jose area, and you notified the DMV," Garza said. "It's people like you that help make sure that the license plates out there are acceptable to society."

The DMV always errs on the side of caution. For example, a firefighter who uses the jaws of life to cut victims out of wrecks, was denied "CUTUOUT" because it's a gang term for murder.

And then there's the infamous 'ILVTOFU,' which was denied because it could be read as "I Love To F**k You."

Out of the million personalized license plates on California roads, just two or three are recalled every year.

Back in San Jose, the DMV has already begun the process of recalling the plate with the offensive Vietnamese phrase.



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