Vulgar license plate holders OK if they don’t cover the plate

The in basket: Susan Hinckley-Porter of Poulsbo said in July, “I was recently sitting in the Seattle to Bainbridge ferry line and observed a car with a license plate holder that had the following message: ‘Lifetime island resident with bad attitude, f— UW, f— the city, f— CA, f— BC.’ 

“I understand that there are certain words that can not be used on a license plate, but what about the frame holding the license plate?” she asked.

The out basket: I told her that it wouldn’t be actionable if it was on a T-shirt, so it probably would be just as permissible (and as offensive) on a license plate holder. 

That’s true, says Brad Benfield of the state Department of Licensing. “We don’t have any jurisdiction over a license plate frame or holder,” he said. “However, if the frame or holder is such that it makes (the plate) difficult to read, then law enforcement can step in.”

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