License AAA0000 seen frequently around here

This photo found on Facebook

The in basket: Richard West writes, “In March 2010 your article mentioned the new seven-digit license plates starting to appear in Kitsap County. It also mentioned that the first plates went to Whitman County (the Colfax-Pullman area).

“As I watch cars with the new plates all around the area, I have noticed a car with what might be the first plate, AAA0000, seems to spend a lot of time in the Kitsap area.

“Is it a WSU parent? Maybe your contacts can shed light on who got the first plate.”

The out basket: The plate is registered to a Mason County resident, says Brad Benfield of the state Department of Licensing.

“The transaction for the first plate was processed through our headquarters office here in Olympia,” he said, “so it appears the actual ‘first box’ or at least part of that box was retained here for use by our staff who still process some transactions by mail.”

The Mason County owner of that plate may have been savvy enough to have placed his or her order with the intent of getting the first plate in the series, or it might have been happenstance.

I was of the belief that ordinary citizens could pay to learn who owned cars with particular plate numbers, but I was wrong. The federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act passed in 1994 places restrictions on what information a state licensing department can release. It appears it wasn’t even true before then.

“The federal law spells out pretty clearly who can get registered owner information,” Brad said. “Beyond law enforcement/legal or other government use, the release of this type of information is limited to uses where it is required to conduct a particular business — like parking lot or towing companies.

“There are no provisions for the release of this type of information—for a fee or otherwise—for news gathering or to satisfy curiosities about a vehicle’s owner,” he said.

Of course, if the owner of that plate happens to learn of this discussion, perhaps he could e-mail or otherwise contact me and tell the story of what it’s like to own license AAA0000.


In fact, Paul Petrinovich, owner of AAA0000, got the word and you can read about that plate and his other 50,000 0r s0 at


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