State looks to pull anti-Bush license plate

news02_impeach_bush_plate_thumb.jpegRAPID CITY — Heather Moriah loves the personalized license plates on her silver Prius encouraging the impeachment of President George W. Bush.

But somebody doesn’t agree. And that somebody complained to the state. Now, the South Dakota Division of Motor Vehicles is trying to recall the plates — which read MPEACHW. And if Moriah doesn’t turn them in voluntarily, the state might send law-enforcement officers to pick them up.

Even so, she’s not immediately inclined to cooperate.

“I don’t think I’m going to play,” Moriah said Thursday afternoon. “The plate isn’t in poor taste. It‘s not sexual in nature or pornographic. To me, a political message should not be considered offensive.”

But Division of Motor Vehicles director Deb Hillmer said Thursday that the law clearly gives the state authority to recall the plates and have them forcibly removed if necessary. And although only one person complained about Moriah’s political statement, that’s all it takes to recall a set of vanity plates, Hillmer said.

“I’m following the letter of the law,” she said. “It’s offensive to someone and not in good taste and decency. And the plates are the property of the state of South Dakota.”

State law declares motor vehicle licenses plates to be the property of the state as long as the plates are valid. The law also allows personalized plates with as many as seven letters for an extra $25 fee. But it gives DMV officials the right to refuse to issue “any letter combination which carries connotations offensive to good taste and decency.”

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