ACLU Sues DMV Over Vanity Plate Censorship

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that gives the DMV Administrator carte blanche authority to deny vanity license plates. The lawsuit argues that the statute is overly broad and vague, and unconstitutionally gives the DMV unbridled discretion to infringe on free speech rights.

The suit was brought on behalf of Sean Carroll, an environmentally conscious Tesla owner who was advised by the DMV two weeks ago that, in response to an anonymous complaint, he had until tomorrow to turn in his license plate “FKGAS” or else have his car registration cancelled.

So how does this compare to the DMV’s past decisions?

Defendant [the DMV] bans as ‘offensive to good taste and decency’ the license plate CHUBBY but not FATTY; DRUNK but not TIPSY; HAJJI and HELL, but not HEAVEN or JEWISH; GUN but not GUNS or PISTL or SABER; HOOSIER but not FRIAR; REDNECK, but not REDNEK, REDNK OR REDNEC; and SLOB but not NEAT.

Defendant’s attempt to ban Plaintiff’s FKGAS plate as offensive stands in contrast to his allowance of such plates as FCCING, FKNFST, FKS, FUBAR, SKCK, and SNAFU, as well as such plates as DOGDOO, FACIAL, and OLDFRT.

Hoosier? But clearly this is not as frivolous a suit as it might at first seem.

So I appeal to all the drunk slobs out there, stand up for your rights, and take this opportunity to donate to the Rhode Island ACLU. Their current work also involves keeping an eye on our civil liberties during a public health emergency, and they were also successful in obtaining the release of three immigrants, who were especially vulnerable to Covid-19, from the Wyatt Detention Center.

And the Rhode Island ACLU, Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters are all working to preserve voters’ rights vis-a-vis the mail-in ballots for the June 2nd  presidential primary.

We need all these organizations keeping an eye on things locally while so many of us are consumed with the dire national scene.


(This is the only photo of license plates I have. It was taken a couple of years ago at the Winter Farmers Market. I believe this is R.I Artisan Birdhouse. If this is wrong please let us know.)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Providence Daily Dose