Hawaiian vanity number plates: How far is too far?

Honolulu - A ruling is expected soon in a case that could determine what Hawaiians can and cannot have on their number plates.

The Motor Vehicle Licensing Authority (MVLA) sets the rules for personalised "vanity" number plates. They don't allow anything vulgar but you also can't have anything political, racist or religious.

So when a Honolulu man wanted the biblical verse John 4:16, the MVLA turned him down. He sued, and the issue is now in the hands of Appeal Court judges.

"In Honolulu, you write down the meaning of your number plate and so he wrote down the biblical meaning that he was referring to, a Bible verse, and he was denied. Although if he had written down that my son's name is John, his birthday is March 16, that would have been okay. So he, along with some public interest groups have challenged that," said local lawyer Martin Ingleby.

The plaintiff points to several examples of number plates that the MVLA has allowed that make religious, ethnic and political statements. Ingleby says no matter what the appeals court decision, the issue will probably end up being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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