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Wait—So Minnesota Gives Out Unsolicited PEE License Plates?

Well... not exactly. But for a lucky few: yes.

10:13 AM CST on January 26, 2024

Em Cassel

December 2, 2023, was as normal a day as they come: Got up late, ate breakfast, took the dogs for a walk around Fancy Ray's favorite spot in the state, Pike Island. Heading back toward Minneapolis via Hwy. 62, a blue Subaru Outback pulled out in front of our red Subaru Outback. Absolutely standard Minnesota stuff.

But something about that blue Soob struck me as odd. And that's when I saw it—the license plate that would change my life forever.

PEE 353.

Never have I whipped out my phone to snap a photo so fast. (Yes, yes, from the passenger seat—take it easy.) I apologize for the grainy photo quality, but in my defense, the sun was setting, the driver was getting away, and I was shaking with laughter. 

“Did you guys know they’ll assign you a license plate with PEE??” I wrote, firing the photo off to the group chat. “I wouldn't have believed it if you hadn't shown me,” came one reply. 

Over the weeks that followed, I rolled the number around in my head like a powerball, musing over its symmetry, its curve, its uncanny rhyme scheme.

PEE 353.

PEE 353.

PEE 353.

But the more I thought about it, the more unlikely the PEE plate seemed. Did the state just give out plates with PEE, really?

It seemed impossible that it would appear (apeer) among the randomly generated three-letter combos doled out to Minnesota drivers. I'd have noticed it; one does not simply forget a PEE plate. PEE 353 felt like a riddle waiting to be unlocked.

Maybe it was a vanity plate? But then, I'd sifted through 93,188 Minnesota vanity plates along with my colleague Jay for this piece of stunt journalism back in 2022, and I didn't remember seeing PEE there. I returned to the overwhelmingly large spreadsheet and, with one stroke of CMD+F, confirmed that while there are Minnesota drivers out there with plates reading BOPEEP, CAPEESH, and PEEWEE1, there was no isolated PEE here, either.

Even if it was a customized plate, how did it get approved? Surely the same nanny state that gives the ixnay to plate phrases like "IFARTED" and "FKNDEER" would also take issue with any variation of PEE. And my searches for "pee license plate" didn't turn up much, aside from a delightful little story about a New Hampshire guy who got away with the plate "PB4WEGO" for 15 years.

Briefly, I considered that PEE 353 could be a numerology thing. ("Jesus Christ was crucified at 33; 55 on the mileage.")

"The 353 angel number, is sending you a message to review the balance in your life. Something might be missing or lacking in your life," according to the, uh, experts at 101planners.com/numerology.

Hm, no. Not interrogating that any further. An embarrassing email to MN Driver and Vehicle Services it was. Incredibly, the good folks at Driver Services got back to me in 24 hours. And what you're about to read may shock you.

According to information provided by DVS, "some customers who ordered plates online last spring may have received plates with the letters PEE on them due to a production error."

Oh my god.

While they are valid license plates, according to DVS, customers who found them “objectionable” were given the option to exchange them at no cost. (DVS did not volunteer data about the number of drivers affected.)

Oh. My. God! This was better than I could have ever hoped.

The implications were astounding; I laughed all over again imagining the poor old bloke in Anoka who opened his new plates and stared "PEE 349" in the face—then had to send an email complaining about it. Or the four-year-old kids whose mom opened her own set of PEE plates, stared at them, and then chose to keep 'em so her kiddos could get a laugh. What the hell? It is pretty funny. Or, god bless ‘em, the possible pee freak who, upon opening their new plates, felt heavenly validation for a lifetime of messy bedroom fun. Maybe somewhere out there, a urologist got a set! Sometimes the world is a really beautiful place.

If you're hoping to get PEE plates of your own someday, though... I'm sorry. 

"The combination PEE is no longer in use for plates," according to DVS.

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