A California vanity license plate that contains a secret message is going viral.
When viewed normally, the license plate "3J0H22A" doesn't seem very remarkable. Through a rearview mirror, though, the plate has a completely different meaning and contains profanity, American Web Media reports.
One person noticed the plate's secret message, posting two photos of the plate over social media. The pictures show that once the vanity plate is seen through a mirror, it reads "a**hole."
California has a strict no-profanity rule for its license plates. According to the Sacramento Bee, the state's Department of Motor Vehicles rejected 9,000 vanity plate applications in the second half of 2016 alone.
While some requests are obviously inappropriate, others are more questionable and only hint at profanity when read in a certain way. For example, a plate that read "OSX4EVA" was denied because it could have been read as "Oh, sex forever." The person who applied for that plate said that he was simply a huge fan of the Apple operating system OS X.
Just four DMV employees review over 20,000 vanity plate applications a month -- approximately 1,000 per day. Applications that appear questionable upon first review are flagged for further inspection.
"Customers’ amount of creativity is phenomenal," said Artemio Armenta, a spokesman for the DMV. "There are times the reviewers have to go talk to other employees with diverse experience or dialects to interpret some of the phrases on the requests."
Still, though, inappropriate requests for personalized plates occasionally fly under the radar and get approved. The DMV still has the ability to revoke plates if their potentially offensive nature isn't noticed until after the driver receives said plates, though.
That's what happened to a driver in Texas, who had the same idea to write "a**hole" upside-down. He had the plate "370h55V" on his Lamborghini for three years before he got a letter from the DMV saying that the plate would be revoked, WXMI reports.
"It has been determined that the personalization is offensive," the DMV informed plate-owner Safeer Hasaan in April 2015.
According to officials, the plate could "invoke a response from other drivers that would be driving past that vehicle."
Hasaan disagreed with the DMV's verdict, saying that he had never had a problem with the plate before.
"I definitely think the state is overreaching their boundaries," he said, adding that he is strongly considering appealing the decision.