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BLAWg In Bloom

The Indiana Law Library Blog

The License Plate Debate Rages On

Indiana has numerous different specialty plates to choose from. Most of the plates support a particular cause, and a driver will pay an extra fee which is donated to that cause. One of the exceptions, though, is the popular “In God We Trust” plates. These pop up in the news every so often, appearing in legislation and lawsuits. Should people have to pay extra for these plates? There is no organization behind the plates to collect the money. Should Indiana be issuing these plates at all? “In God We Trust” is the national motto, but that doesn’t make it a secular message.

Most recently, vanity plates are at the heart of a lot of the same issues. Indiana, despite all the controversy over the “In God We Trust” plates is one of only a few states who ban vanity plates with a religious message (see 140 IAC 2-5-2). It’s a relatively new policy, so there are many cars with religious vanity plates that were issues prior to the restriction that are still permissible. (A plate that does not meet the new standards will be revoked only is there are a substantial number of complaints about it, according to 140 IAC 2-5-3.) The case currently in the news concerns a woman who has sported a religious plate for years. However, this year she missed the deadline to renew the plate, and took action when the BMV declined to reissue it to her. It looks like she is going to get her plate. If you would like to know more, Indianapolis Star reporter Jon Murray has been following the story closely. Look at his recent stories here, here, and here.

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