Judge Rules Against Indiana Bureau Of Motor Vehicles On “0INK” License Plate Rejection

In the latest battle against seemingly arbitrary rules employed by many states when it comes to whether a personalized license plate is acceptable or not, a judge has ruled against the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles in a case involving an ex-police officer who was rejected when he tried to renew his “0INK” plate.

There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason at the BMV, as it denied a request for “HATER” but was fine with “HATERS,” notes the Indianapolis Star, and it sounds like the judge agreed.

In a ruling that mentions our First Amendment rights, a superior court judge sided with the man who’d filed a lawsuit last year over the license plate. He wanted the plate with the verbal pig snort as “an ironic statement of pride in his profession.”

The judge says some of BMV’s standards to assess the appropriateness of such plates was so vague, it violates the constitution. It also didn’t comply with state rules for reviewing such procedures.

He’s issued an order saying that the former general counsel for the BMV “was unable to explain the seeming inconsistencies in the approval and denial,” like in the HATERS/HATER example.

He’s ordered the BMV to allow the 0INK man to get the license plate he wants and not give it away to someone else first, as well as reinstitute the personalized license plate system, which had been dumped two months before the man sued.

“The First Amendment prevents arbitrary decision making when it comes to expression,” said the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which represented the man and others in the class-action suit. “The court properly recognized that the BMV does not have in place adequate, lawful and constitutional standards to assess personalized license plates.”

Meanwhile, a BMV spokesman said the bureau is still reviewing the decision and hasn’t decided what steps to take next.

Judge rules against Indiana BMV in ‘0INK’ license plate case [Indianapolis Star]