New Hampshire DMV begins issuing vanity plates under new rule
The New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles will begin processing more than 2,000 backlogged applications for vanity plates under guidelines set by an interim rule that took effect yesterday.
The text of the interim rule is more specific than the previous version. Before, vanity plates that “a reasonable person would find offensive to good taste” were prohibited, but the state Supreme Court ruled in May that the standard was “unconstitutionally vague” and could potentially be enforced in arbitrary and discriminatory ways.
The interim rule states that license plates “cannot refer to or be associated with any of the following subjects, in any language, whether read forward, backward, by mirror image or by phonetic spelling: intimate body parts or genitals; sexual or excretory acts or functions; words or terms of profanity or obscenity; violence; illegal activities; intoxicants, drugs or drug culture; gangs; or racial, ethnic, religious, gender or sexual orientation hatred or bigotry.”
The rule also states that the director of the DMV will recall or refuse to renew any vanity registration plate that does not conform with the requirements, no matter when the plate was originally issued.
A press release from the DMV said about 1.5 million automobiles are registered in the state, including 162,000 with vanity plates. Vanity plate applications generate about $6.6 million in revenue each year for the state. The interim rule will be in place until a permanent rule is passed by the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules.
Michael Todd, public information officer for the state Department of Safety, said once applicants receive approval notices from the state DMV, the rest of the process can be completed at the local offices.
“Applicants can take their approval letter and their old license plate to the local substation and finish the process from there,” he said. “They don’t need to come down to Concord.”
The DMV hopes to process all of the backlogged applications in the next 60 days, according to the press release.
(Ann Marie Jakubowski can be reached at 369-3302 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AMJakubowski.)