The license plate police E-mail
Written by APB Staff   

The MMVA has what’s called an Objectionable Plate List.

Needless to say we can’t print a lot of the more vulgar license plate ideas or the FCC’d sue us.

State law allows the MVA to deny tags that have any one of the following:
 A scatological or sexual meaning
 Use curse words, epithets or obscenities
 Carry a “fraudulent or deceptive purpose” (FBI and CIA are banned)
 Refer to illegal acts
 Convey messages about a group’s race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or disability.

But if you want to get the skinny on license plates and what’s appropriate to put on them you’re going to need input from one group in particular- prison inmates.

The MVA occasionally gets input the prison inmates who make the plates at Maryland Correctional Enterprises.

“Sometimes they’ll be quality control,” one MMVA official told Sun reporters.

“They’ll call us and say, ‘Hey, this combination is a drug reference or a sex reference.’”

The problem for the officials charged with regulating the content is the fact that the apparent meaning of many entries that are on the objectionable list can be copied using what might be called text-phonetics.

At first look “6ULDV8” looks like a random jumble of characters. But it might be a way to say “sexual deviant.”)

What about curses in other languages? That’s an issue for the courts apparently.

Someone complained to the MMVA about a tag reading MIERDA, which is Spanish for crap.

The agency reviewed it with the attorney general’s office and decided to ban it. But the vehicle owner fought back and his appeal is now pending.

But like all forms of government censorship banning tags is largely a subjective exercise in terms of what gets defined as obscene.

Another complaint to the MMVA was related to a plate that contained WTF. But in that case officials sided with the owners who said the tag was a nod to their WaTerFront property- a likely story.

Also approved by the MMVA were plates reading “AHHWTF” as well as “LOLWTF.”

Also included on the list of banned tags is “ALLAH.”

The agency did green-light PHATAZZ and BAD AZZ though.


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