Removing the% & * @ from Maine vanity plates will take time – .

Removing the% & * @ from Maine vanity plates will take time – .

Removing stunning obscenities from license plates on Maine’s roads and highways will not happen overnight, even as a law banning such profanity in a state where such regulation has been unusually lax comes into effect on Monday. .

Currently, there are license plates with salty language including f-bombs, references to anatomy and sexual acts, and general slurs. A license plate simply says “F —- Y0U” – except that on the plate it is clearly written.

Now rule making is underway to ensure the law protects First Amendment rights while getting rid of obscene language.

The process, which includes public comment, could take between two and four months, Secretary of State Sheenna Bellows said.

Applications for so-called vanity license plates that are considered potentially offensive will be suspended in the meantime. Eventually, the state will begin recalling previously issued plates, probably this winter.

“The rule making will delay the process of actively removing license plates from the road, but will help us balance citizens’ free speech rights with the public interest in removing inappropriate license plates.” , she said.

A majority of states have restrictions on license plate messages that are considered profane, sexually suggestive, racist, drug-related, politically objectionable, or religiously offensive.

But Maine became “the wild, wild, wild west of vanity license plates” when the state dropped its review process in 2015. “Our approach to everything was unusual,” Bellows said.

As a former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, Bellows understands the importance of First Amendment protections on free speech. But she admitted that she didn’t understand the extent of “really disturbing” license plates until she was sworn in as secretary of state earlier this year.

There have been legal proceedings on the matter in other states.

Last year, a federal judge ruled that California could not ban vanity license plates that it considers “offensive to good taste and decency.”

California law was too broad, so states should be careful about targeting license plates that are profane or obscene, or that represent hate speech.

In Maine, there are approximately 121,000 vanity license plates on the roads in a state of about 1.3 million people. It is estimated that 400 offensive plates could be subject to recall, officials said.

Bellows said she saw it this way: “If you can’t say it on the 6am news, it shouldn’t be on a license plate. “

“The license plate is the property of the state,” she said. “If you really want an offensive slogan on your car then you can use a bumper sticker. “


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