The switch to anything goes, back in 2015.

I remember a while back, I honestly didn't even fully realize that a change had happened at the state level about vanity plates on cars. I just rolled up behind some random pickup one day, and it said things that I'm not inclined to write here. And I just remember shaking my head, and wondering how the heck that got through.

Then I heard all about hoe some lawsuit about freedom of speech forced the state to start taking any old idea for a license plate. So you started seeing a lot more plates with the "F" word, and even some plates evoking hate speech and racism. Since it wasn't voted on by all Mainers, it left a lot of folks feeling offended.

Now the switch back in 2021.

A lot of Mainers were not happy about this newfound freedom on the vanity plate. Folks complained about having their kids in the car and seeing these things. Or feeling triggered by someone else's plate. Others felt downright offended. So Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, helped put forth specific legislation to reign it all in.

So, now it's over. You can no longer have a plate with these potentially offensive terms on it. As Sen. diamond put it to the Portland Press Herald:

The plate is public property, like a public building. Individuals have a right to free speech, but they don’t have the right to deface government property in exercising that right.

Also, your current plate with swear words, etc. will not be grandfathered through. The state is hoping you'll accept it and switch it out on your own, but it will certainly not make it through the annual registration process. Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows says they won't run right out and pull people over for these plates, by any means.

But what about freedom of speech?

New Hampshire passed a similar law recently, rescinding their controversial vanity plates. The way both laws are worded, lawmakers feel they have adequate legal precedent to stand up in court against legal challenges that this is a free speech violation. In Fact, Sen. Diamond says he welcomes those challenges.

The real victims here will be folks who work in local town offices. Poor Edith at the town office is going to be the one getting yelled at by Johnny Vulgar Pants. Not Sec. of State Bellows or Sen. Diamond. The workers that have to issue plates are the true people caught in the crossfire of all this.

Obviously, there's a very vocal minority of Mainers who will be straight-up mad about losing their precious vanity plates, telling you to "F-off". Personally, I can't say I'll miss them much. Some are kinda funny, but the rest just come across as pretty cheesy and silly. Either way, it's a done deal now. Say goodnight, Gracie.

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