First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
 
Ore. DMV deems UDINK vanity plates offensive

By The Associated Press
09.25.07

MERLIN, Oregon — The state of Oregon has ordered a family to turn in the vanity license plates on its cars because their Dutch last name, which is written on the plates, is similar to an offensive word.

The plates, UDINK1 UDINK2 and UDINK3 are on the vehicles of Mike and Shelly Udink and their son Kalei. Two of the plates are five and seven years old. One was issued last year.

Last summer, Kawika Udink's application for UDINK4 was rejected and the state ordered that the other three plates be returned.

''DINK has several derogatory meanings,'' Yvonne Bell, who sits on the Department of Motor vehicles panel that approves vanity plates, told the Daily Courier newspaper.

DMV spokesman David House and Bell said the word can be treated as a verb, which gives it a sexual reference, and also can be a racial slur targeted at the Vietnamese.

House said the ''U'' in the front could be construed as ''You.''

The DMV denies requests for any combination of letters and numbers that may be viewed as objectionable, in any language, by use of phonetic, numeric or reverse spelling, or when viewed as a mirror image, or that would alarm or offend a reasonable person.

Intimate body parts or sexual or bodily functions are taboo, as are offensive references to race, color, gender, ethnic heritage, or national origin or to alcohol or drugs or paraphernalia.

The panel's ruling surprised Mike Udink, whose name is Dutch. He says it is a common last name in The Netherlands.

''Since when can a panel dictate whether your name's offensive or not?'' asked Udink, a lineman for Pacific Power.

House said the state has the right to censor license plates, because the state owns them.


Related

Justices spurn 'Choose Life' tag cases

Supreme Court refuses to consider Louisiana, Tennessee laws allowing drivers to pay extra for anti-abortion license plates. 06.26.06

Woman resists DMV's call to return anti-Bush license plate
South Dakota official says that although only one person complained about 'MPEACHW' message, that's all it takes to recall a set of vanity plates. 05.07.07

Vt. man blocked again in quest for 'JN36TN' vanity plate
'The DMV has the right to prohibit religious messages on license plates provided it does not discriminate based on the particular message or viewpoint,' federal magistrate judge finds. 08.16.07

Retired N.Y. cop fights to keep 'GETOSAMA' license plates
In seeking plates' return, DMV cites rules prohibiting plates that could be considered 'obscene, lewd, lascivious, derogatory to a particular ethnic group or patently offensive.' 11.29.07

Days may be numbered for S.D. vanity tags
'Plates were never designed to give people free expression, whether it be political or sexual or whatever,' says state DMV director. 01.08.08

The GR8 debate over vanity license plates
By Ken Paulson Express yourself in seven letters or less. 08.26.01

License plates

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print


Last system update: Friday, July 25, 2008 | 05:14:43
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

First Reports
Supreme Court
Experts
Columnists
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Singsā„¢
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links