Should Vanity License Plates Be Considered Free Speech?

in palnet •  14 days ago 

Just recently, motorists in New Hampshire had been sent notifications that many of them had offensive license plates, specialty vanity plates for their vehicles, and they were demanded to return them to DMV.

The recipients of those letters in NH aren't the only ones who have faced this ordeal either.

In California, one man took to suing the Department of Motor Vehicles for attempting to violate his freedom of speech in seeking to similarly restrict his vanity plate freedom.

A federal judge has just recently determined that he can go ahead with his lawsuit.

For the case in California, the controversial vanity plate in question relates to the vehicle owners' support for Britain's Fulham Football Club which has a regular chant, 'Come On You Whites', which inspired his idea for a COYW plate.


The DMV refused to issue him a plate though saying that it was too offensive.

California authorities have already tried to have the case dismissed but a federal judge has ruled that it can proceed. They tried to argue that all vehicle license plates ultimately constitute government speech but the judge didn't agree.

" strains believability to argue that viewers perceive the government as speaking through personalized vanity plates," - U.S. District Judge G. Wu.

What they tried to argue is that the public knows that license plates are approved by the DMV, so they might misconstrue those messages on the license plate to believe they are state-endorsed messages.

These vanity license plates are now making their way back into a First Amendment debate on whether or not vanity plates should be covered or if they are government speech. Previously, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that vanity plates do constitute government speech when they ruled at one point that Texas was justified in refusing to issue license plates years ago to a certain veteran-related group.

Getting Creative

Those who love vanity plates say that they just want to be creative in coming up with something that they love, and often times they do come up with a saying that's very unique and creative which speaks to their own personal interests.

The DMV in one region alone might get thousands of requests every year for vanity plates, and some of those which have been rejected in the past include:


When they are restricted because some might find their creativity "offensive," it's easy to see how they might feel that this is a violation of their freedom. And different courts and judges in various circumstances have also agreed with them, though not always.


Related Posts:

New Hampshire DMV Not Happy With Controversial Vanity Plate

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I would just rather licence plates not be a thing, then we wouldn't even have to debate about whether they are included in free speech or not.

not be a thing.. sounds like you'd just prefer.. complete CHAOS!😆

why don't you just move to Somalia if you want so much freedom!

mind you, even in a free market it's likely there still might be disagreements over what markers or identification tags might be used to utilize private roads etc, controversial statements not being allowed if ppl wanted such freedom? but at least you'd have the option to perhaps go elsewhere, somewhere that could satisfy your needs rather than being subjected to a monopoly 🤷anyways.. thx for the comment! and welcome back to steemit? hope you start posting and commenting more.. it being #newsteem and all🎉