CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Some are clever. Some are creative. But some are too racy for the road. Many requests for vanity plates are rejected each year.
“Surprised, disappointed,” Janet Lohr said.
Lohr is a customer service assistant with the Ohio Department of Public Safety in Columbus and a member of the five-person requisition committee that recommends whether to approve or deny vanity plates in the Buckeye State.
“Confused some days by what some people want on a particular plate,” Lohr said.
Lohr says the committee reviews roughly 300 applications each morning. She says the committee is diverse, allowing for different opinions based on life experiences and knowledge of current culture. They also use tools online to research the meanings.
“We use Google, Urban Dictionary, slang dictionary,” Lohr said.
Lohr appreciates the creativity.
“I liked at one point it was “AU Digr,” Lohr remembered. “AU meaning the element of gold. So you have gold digger."
The committee follows three rules for denial:
The committee sends its recommendations to management, who then sends the recommendations to the Registrar’s office for final review. An applicant can appeal the decision.
“It gets a little complicated some days,” Lohr said. “Creativity is good, but be careful because we do check different things.”
Some fight the decisions.
In 2016, Ben Hart moved from Ohio to Kenton County and applied for the customized license plate “IM GOD”, because he said he was an atheist and wanted to evoke a conversation.
But despite having an Ohio plate with the same phrase for 12 years, Kentucky denied his request, because it fell under the categories of “vulgar or obscene.”
So Hart took the Bluegrass State to court. And not only did a federal court grant his request, but it also ordered the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to pay Hart’s attorneys’ fees, totaling more than $150,000.
FOX19 NOW asked Ohio Registrar Charles Norman what he would say to those who argue the denials violate an applicant’s First Amendment rights.
"There is case law that guides our processes and procedures for plate issuance that addresses some of the requests the BMV receives that are overtly obscene or profane," Norman said.
FOX19 NOW has obtained the 2019 list of rejected vanity plate names in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. You can review the lists below.
WARNING - There are names on the lists some might find offensive.
Ohio rejected plates
Kentucky rejected plates
Indiana rejected plates