Teacher Asks The DMV: “How Does This Plate I Just Saw Not Violate Your Guidelines?”

@mattpacenza via Twitter

When you buy a car, it’s a requirement that you get a license plate for that car. Sometimes car dealerships will work with the DMV for you to make sure the car has a license plate. Many people are okay with whatever random combination of letters and numbers end up on the plate. Other people want their license plates to be customized. These vanity plates could be customized with pretty much any name, phrase or word someone desires, but there are guidelines to follow.

If someone has something specific they want on their license plate but someone else already has that specific license plate, then the request will be denied by the state’s DMV. If someone requests something specific on the license plate but it is considered offensive in some way, the request would also be denied, or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

An English teacher named Matt Pacenza who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, noticed a vanity license plate that he thought was extremely offensive. Pacenza told The Salt Lake Tribune, “It jumped out at me because of how aggressive and confrontational and political the message was. I’m used to personalized plates being whimsical or playful or personal: GOUTES or DOGMAMA or SKILOVE or something. This felt significantly different.”

When he saw the plate, Pacenza took a picture and posted it on Facebook and Twitter. He wrote, “Hey @utahdld, how does this plate I just saw not violate your guidelines?”

Many people commented on the tweet agreeing with Pacenza that the plate seemed unacceptable. One of the people who commented was Senator Daniel Thatcher. 

Thatcher later responded to his comment with clarification about why he agrees that the license plate shouldn’t have been approved.

Thatcher later updated the situation by stating that the DMV was reviewing the issue and that based on the DMV’s guidelines for license plates, the plate should be recalled.

According to Tammy Kikuchi, a spokesperson for the Utah Tax Commission which oversees the DMV in Utah, the license plate was approved in 2015. Kikuchi said, “I don’t know why it was approved in 2015.” She added, “We’re not sure how it got through.”