A Yahoo article recently told the story of Danny White of Washington, D.C., who purchased a vanity plate that simply said, ‘NO TAGS’. What’s the problem with this? Enforcement officers write “no tags” when issuing a parking ticket for a vehicle with no license plate. As a result, White has racked up a total of more than $20,000 worth of parking tickets, none of which belong to him.

Washington, D.C. driver Danny White thought he had a really good idea for a joke. But the joke’s on him–to the tune of $20,000, reports local affiliate NBC4.

White’s prank started 25 years ago when he got a vanity license plate reading, “NO TAGS.” He told NBC4 that he was “Just having fun!” and that “D.C. don’t get the joke. They don’t get it.”

The article also mentions Nick Vautier of Los Angeles, Calif., who bought a vanity plate with his initials. Enforcement officers there often use “NV” when writing a citation for a plate-less vehicle. Vautier eventually changed his plate after scores of unpaid ticket notices flooded his mailbox.

Early in my parking career, I used the plate “ABC123” when training officers to write parking tickets. There was a woman in a nearby town who kept receiving notices for unpaid tickets even though she rarely came to our city; her tags were, of course, ABC123. Being a teacher, she would not part ways with that plate.

Some cities now scan bar codes from state inspection stickers when issuing parking tickets. The scan records bar code data including plate type and VIN. This eliminates much of the confusion from vanity plates or the growing number of specialty plates that use the same number system as unadorned tags, but depend on the officer to differentiate by noting a college logo or other plate design.

Whatever the resolution is, I’d have to agree with a comment on the website: “It’s 2012. This should be something that technology should be easily able to fix.” The other I like is this: “My next car will have the plate ‘I FORGOT’. That way, if I get in a hit and run accident and the cops ask the guy I hit what the license plate was of my car…”