© 2021 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Senate Approves Limits On Vanity License Plates

Paul Cooper

For years the state has offered the option of vanity license plates for an extra fee. But the Maine state Senate is backing a measure aimed at restoring restrictions on vulgar and obscene plates.

Until 2015, Maine’s Secretary of State had the authority to reject applications for obscene vanity plates. At the time, because of concerns raised about free speech, the restriction was relaxed to apply only to messages that might incite violence. Windham Democrat Bill Diamond is a former Secretary of State, and co-chair of the transportation committee that supports restoring more stringent standards.

"Things went pretty well for the last 15, 16 years but in the last four or five years things have gotten out of hand with the vulgarity and the profanity,” Diamond says.

The legislation would not only empower the Secretary of State to refuse to issue a plate that doesn’t meet standards, it would also allow the state to reclaim a plate that’s in violation. The measure had broad bipartisan support in the Senate and faces further votes.

"What it basically says is the Secretary of State can withdraw or refuse vanity plates that encourage violence, acts of violence, profane obscenities, derogatory references, genitalia, sexual acts,” Diamond says.