INDIANAPOLIS — The driver who acts like a jerk at the lake might be a "BASSHOL," but they can't announce it to the world on their bumper. It was one of the 700 personalized license plate submissions the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles denied in 2021.
The rejected plates, which WRTV received through an information request, make up about 1.4% of the nearly 54,000 requests Hoosiers made this year, according to Rich Lord, executive director of marketing and communications for the Indiana BMV.
Lord said a committee of approximately 40 BMV employees reviews requests drivers submit.
"Each plate is randomly assigned to members of the committee who review the text requested as well as how the plate will appear if printed," Lord said.
The plates deemed inappropriate in 2021 are about what you would expect.
Many were profane, others were sexually explicit and some were complete gibberish. About a dozen consisted of insults directed at President Joe Biden, while others attempted to let their opinions on COVID-19 vaccinations be known.
A flirtatious driver might want to say "HEYYYYY" at "SEXYPAM," but that's not a connection that will be made on the interstate. And, while you might feel "MDWEST AF" here in Indiana, you'll have to keep it to yourself.
As for the person who thought it would be a good idea to have "KIDNAPR" written above their bumper, well, the BMV probably saved them from themselves. Nothing suspicious about that.
Bodily functions and anatomy remain some of the most popular submissions. The kids who scrawled "POO PEE" and "I P00PED" on their desks at school are still at it in adulthood.
The Indiana BMV's personalized license plate program has encountered controversy in the past. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in 2013 filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Greenfield Police Department Corporal Rodney G. Vawter after the BMV revoked his "0INK" plate.
Marion Superior Court Judge James Osborn ruled in favor of Vawter and other plaintiffs, and determined the Indiana BMV violated state law in July 2013 when it suspended the personalized license plate program and ordered that it be reinstated.
Osborn also ruled the standards the Indiana BMV used to determine the appropriateness of personalized license plates violated the First Amendment and Indiana law and ordered that they no longer be used.
According to the BMV, personalized license plates can only contain a combination of numbers and letters. Special characters are not allowed, so the person who submitted "BG*800B5" should have read the instructions, not that it would have made any difference.
The BMV can refuse to issue a personalized license plate if it "carries a meaning or connotation offensive to good taste and decency," "would be misleading," or "that the bureau otherwise considers improper for issuance."
People whose plates are denied receive a letter informing them of the fate of their submission. They can try again for another message, request an appeal hearing or register a standard plate.
Better luck next time, "DR D00M."