Vanity License Plate Controversy: A Battle for Free Speech
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has stirred up a debate after demanding that a New Hampshire resident surrender her 15-year-old vanity license plate reading “PB4WEGO.” The source of contention? The inclusion of the term “Pee,” deemed inappropriate by the DMV.
Vanity Plates and Taboos
Vanity plates that involve phrases related to bodily fluids have been declared off-limits by the DMV, prompting a strong reaction from the plate’s owner, Wendy Auger. Auger, a bartender residing in the Gonic neighborhood of Rochester, NH, views her chosen plate as an expression of “free speech.” To her, the phrase “Pee before we go” is a lighthearted parental reminder that holds no harm.
Auger expressed her stance, stating, “Who has a mom or dad or parental figure who hasn’t said that to kids before leaving the house? I’m not the type to sit here with a picket, but come on.”
Support for Expression and Humor
Auger’s viewpoint has garnered support from various quarters. Many individuals advocate for upholding the state’s motto, “Live Free Or Die,” especially when it comes to personal expressions such as vanity plates. Auger, displaying her signature wit, humorously quipped that if her plate were removed, it would “just stink,” cleverly alluding to the plate’s play on words. She added a touch of jest, humorously stating that without her chosen plate, she couldn’t “live free.”
A Long-Awaited Plate
Auger’s attachment to her chosen plate runs deep. She had yearned for it over several years and eagerly seized the opportunity when the state expanded the character limit for license plates from six to seven letters. For her, the plate was not just a string of letters; it was a representation of a cherished idea.
State’s Response and Pending Decision
The state’s perspective sheds light on its stance. The email response from the state notes that changes to license plates were necessitated years ago by a court order from the New Hampshire Supreme Court. The rules have since become more stringent, with specific guidelines now in place. However, due to privacy laws, the state refrains from commenting on Auger’s case specifically, as her registration falls under the umbrella of Granite State’s privacy statutes.
As of now, Auger awaits the final decision from the state. She remains steadfast in her belief that discussing something as commonplace as using the restroom should not be considered offensive or inappropriate. Her case highlights the delicate balance between personal expression and adhering to societal norms, with Auger firmly advocating for the former.
In an age where free speech and individuality are cherished values, the debate over a seemingly innocent license plate speaks to the broader discussion surrounding the boundaries of expression and the preservation of personal rights.