We had no idea Maine was so lax with its personalized license plate oversight. It wasn’t always like the Wild West of vanity plate land. Just about anything-and, we mean anything, within the seven-digit limit has gotten a pass from Maine. That is, until now.
Do states really have an anything goes vanity plate programs?
Today the state of Maine has passed a law banning the profanity/foul language/sex act personalized plates. Until today, any combination with f**k, s**t, insults, sex-related words-virtually anything could be found on Maine plates. We’re sure F**k You got snapped up early.
Most, if not all, states prohibit profane language on plates. It won’t pass if it’s profane, sexual in nature, racist, drug-related, or politically or religiously offensive.. While that was the issue for Maine as well, in 2015 it eliminated its review of vanity plates.
It must have been some sort of First Amendment rights crusader politician that got the state to back off. That, or it was a budget thing. Maine had “offensive language” parameters in place. Now, it doesn’t matter. As of today, it is all over for the anything-goes vanity plate bonanza.
There could be plenty of fights over banning profane vanity plates
Not that the state knows there could be blowback. Some states have fought lawsuits over what is viewed as free speech restrictions. Back in California, license plate oversight was recently ruled illegal. A federal judge ruled the state had to process and issue all plate requests.
The problem with California’s guidelines is that they are full of ambiguities. Until now, it hasn’t processed a plate request it considers “offensive to good taste and decency.” By their guidelines, almost anything could be considered bad taste. So right now, California has had to reverse its ban on certain vanity plates.
However, Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows told AP she was not aware of the “really disturbing” plate issue before coming into office. The state has issued 121,000 personalized plates. That’s for over 1.3 million residents. Right now Maine is looking to recall 400 plates.
“You can use a bumper sticker”
“The license plate is the property of the state,” Bellows said. “If you really want an offensive slogan on your car, then you can use a bumper sticker.” That, or hit the keyboard.
Unfortunately, those with what is deemed offensive messages will have their plates recalled by the state. It could take some time to round them all up. But first, the amendments put in place need a public comment period.
That will take up to four months Bellows says. In the meantime, requests are stacking up for some filthy license plate messages. With the administration reeling in the banned plates, those will be placed on hold. It is unclear whether the state will refund that added expense of purchasing vanity plates.