no-zeroWhen is a zero not a zero? Turns out, when it’s an ‘o’.

For almost 25 years, I’ve been a 9-1-1/law enforcement dispatcher. One task of many in dispatching is to check DMV, DOJ, and national databases for registration and stolen status on vehicles. These checks are usually done by the license plate number, but sometime we have to use the Vehicle Identification Number, also known as the VIN.

From day one of my training, way back in 1994, I was told there are two characters never used in VINs. The letter ‘o’, and the letter ‘i’. This is because they are generally indistinguishable from zeros and ones, especially on VIN plates located on vehicle dashboards or engines. Simple. Every time you see 0 or 1 in a VIN, they are numbers, not letters.

Until yesterday.