A teacher’s discovery of an “offensive” license plate triggers a state investigation.

In Utah, concerns have arisen over a vanity license plate with the message “DEPORTM” after a photo of it surfaced on Twitter.

Matt Pacenza, a high school teacher in Utah, shared the image of the license plate on Thursday. When pronounced, the plate reads as “deport ’em.”

“Hey (Utah Driver License Division), how does this plate I just saw not violate your guidelines?”

Pacenza questioned.

The tweet has sparked over 100 responses from dismayed individuals, expressing sentiments such as “horrific” and “that should never have been accepted by the DMV.”

Tammy Kikuchi, a public information officer with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, confirmed to CNN affiliate KSL that the “DEPORTM” plate was indeed approved back in 2015.

While the First Amendment protects offensive speech that does not constitute true threats or incitements to violence, there are specific guidelines governing customized license plates.

According to the DMV’s website, Utah law prohibits plate combinations that are “vulgar, derogatory, profane, or obscene,” as well as those that “express contempt, ridicule, or superiority of a race, religion, deity, ethnic heritage, gender, or political affiliation.”

Daniel Thatcher, a Republican state senator, responded to Pacenza’s tweet, stating that he had reached out to the Driver License Division and was awaiting a response.

The following day, he mentioned that the state Tax Commission is aware of the plate and conducting an investigation.

He later elaborated, stating that the plate was utilizing “State resources to promote divisiveness and racism.”

The issue has generated significant attention, to the extent that it’s slated for discussion at the Utah Legislature’s next administrative rules review committee meeting on Wednesday, as reported by state Sen. Luz Escamilla.

Representatives from the DMV and the Tax Commission are set to participate in the meeting, aimed at examining the processes involved in granting or denying personalized license plates.

CNN affiliate KUTV reached out to the DMV for examples of vanity license plates that had previously been rejected and received over 100 proposals. Some of the rejected plates included “SAUSAGE,” “NSTYHOE,” “W1NGMAN,” and “PLAN B.”




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