A California tried to use his vanity license plate to get out of paying for parking tickets. He chose the license plate NULL in the belief that when his ticket was entered into the database, it would end up in some computer dustbin and he would not get the bill. It did not quite work out that way.
It’s the story of a security researcher known as Droogie, who presented his experience at the recent DEF CON conference in Las Vegas. Droogie decided his new vanity plate should read “NULL.”
Droogie’s hope was that the new plate would exploit California’s DMV ticketing system in a similar manner to the classic xkcd “Bobby Tables” cartoon. With any luck, the DMV’s ticket database would see “NULL” and consign any of his tickets to the void. Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened.
First, Droogie got a parking ticket, incurred for an actual parking infraction—so much for being invisible. Then, once a particular database of outstanding tickets had associated the license plate NULL with his address, it sent him every other ticket that lacked a real plate. The total came to $12,049 worth of tickets.
Although the initial $12,000-worth of fines were removed, the private company that administers the database didn’t fix the issue and new NULL tickets are still showing up.
Lesson: Don’t try to outsmart the DMV.