Indiana BMV suspends personalized license plate program


The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles announced late Friday that it will temporarily suspend its Personalized License Plate (PLP) program.

BMV Commissioner R. Scott Waddell says the long-standing program has come under scrutiny after a class action lawsuit was filed. The lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of certain aspects of the PLP program. The BMV is suspending the program pending the outcome of the litigation.

The BMV notes that Indiana is not the first state to see its PLP statutes challenged.

"In order to protect Hoosier taxpayers from the considerable expense that these types of lawsuits bring, BMV will suspend its program pending the outcome of the class action lawsuit," the agency said.

If you currently have a PLP, you will be able to keep it and renew it. But effective at 6:00 pm Friday, July 19, 2013, the BMV will not accept any new applications for a personalized plate until a determination can be made on this most recent filing.

The BMV did not specify if a certain case prompted its announcement, but in May 2013, WTHR reported how a Greenfield police officer was fighting to keep his personalized Fraternal Order of Police license plate "0INK," which he's had for the past three years.

A class action complaint filed in Marion County Superior Court says Rodney Vawter has sought the plate "as a humorous comment on the verbal abuse that has frequently been directed towards him in his career as a law enforcement officer, and also as an ironic statement of pride in his profession."

Vawter says the BMV revoked the plate as containing offensive or misleading content. Vawter and his attorney, Ken Falk, claim the reason cited by the BMV for revoking the plate is unconstitutional.

The BMV refers to Indiana Code 9-18-15-4, which allows them refuse a license plate's combination of letters or numbers that "carries a connotation offensive to good taste and decency; or would be misleading."

Falk says he's not aware of any specific complaints received from the public about Vawter's license plate.

The attorney says the class action complaint likely affects hundreds of motorists across the state who have had license plates revoked.