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You can’t get 7 characters on all California license plate styles

 Q. I went from personalized spay/neuter plates to the spay/neuter plates where the Department of Motor Vehicles picks out the license plate number. My new plate only has six digits, and new plates have had seven digits for years. How is this possible?

—  Tom Rapport, Orange

A. Bond, James Bond.

Well, sort of.

You know that nice artwork off to the left side of the plate, of a shades-wearing cat sitting atop a dog’s head? Needs room.

That is a contribution from actor Pierce Brosnan, who, of course, once portrayed 007 on the big screen. About a decade ago, he donated his drawing of his dog, Shilo, and his cat, Angel Baby, to the cause.

“There are other special-interest plates that only allow two to six characters due to each plate’s unique design,” said Ronald Ongtoaboc, a Department of Motor Vehicles spokesman.

(Tom’s personalized Pet Lovers plate had six characters as well.)

There are at least nine plate styles that cap the number of characters at six instead of the more-traditional seven, including the California Museums plate with a dancing Snoopy and the Breast Cancer Awareness plate with a pink ribbon.

A part of the tab for special-interest plates goes to the cause. The Pet Lovers plates raise money and awareness to reduce the overpopulation of animals, such as with spay and neutering programs.

As of July 1, there were Pet Lovers plates issued to 7,062 California vehicles, Ongtoaboc said. Earlier this year, $477,780 raised by the plates was awarded to 18 projects.

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