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Vanity plate fuels issue of what’s offensive to DMV


CHUBBY but not FATTY; DRUNK but not TIPSY …,” reads a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles over its assessment of which vanity plates are considered offensive.

As the Providence television news station WPRI reported Thursday, the case stems from driver Sean Carroll’s license plate that he put on his electric Tesla last summer that reads “FKGAS,” which the DMV—fielding a single complaint—allegedly decided to pull for being four-letter-word offensive.

“The DMV twice issued the license plate ‘FKGAS’ to Mr. Carroll and he drove his Tesla for over five months with that plate on it making his political statement,” an ACLU attorney said in a statement sent to the news station. “No one complained. Now, after one unknown person complained for some unknown reason, the defendant has decided the plate is ‘inappropriate and/or offensive.’ This looks like political censorship.”

According to the complaint, Mr. Carroll had recently installed solar panels at his home and after explaining to his daughter that they could charge the car with energy from the solar panels, she said it was like “fake gas.”

“‘FKGAS’ is my personal statement challenging everyone to look at the world differently,” the plaintiff said in a statement. “Gas isn’t the only option when it comes to powering your vehicle. My choice for a vanity plate has already brought more attention to alternative fuel sources and electric vehicles.”