PIERRE, S.D. — A state law that says personalized license plates in South Dakota must be in “good taste and decency” will not be changed by lawmakers.
A bill that would have set tougher guidelines for messages that are displayed on vanity plates was killed unanimously yesterday without discussion by the state Senate Transportation Committee.
S.B. 185 said license plate messages could not be vulgar, profane, derogatory, obscene or racially offensive.
Sen. Bill Napoli, R-Rapid City, said later that he had asked the committee to kill his bill because the state Motor Vehicles Division opposed it. The division had earlier endorsed a measure that would have eliminated personalized plates entirely, but the committee rejected that bill.
“I think they wanted all or nothing, so if they’re not interested in it, I’m not, either,” Napoli said of S.B. 185.
State officials had said on the earlier bill to eliminate vanity plates (S.B. 20) that it’s becoming very difficult to police the messages that people want to display on them. They said the state could face a lawsuit over free speech by those who were denied the use of certain slogans that can be displayed with letters and numbers.
State officials added that the state also faces the prospect of being sued by those who see vanity plates they believe are offensive.
Personalized license plates cost an extra $25 a year for cars and trucks and $20 extra for motorcycles. Those costs are in addition to regular licensing fees.
The special plates for cars and trucks may contain up to seven letters, but no fewer than two letters. Motorcycles are limited to six letters.