Judge rules Tesla owner can keep 'FKGAS' license plate after state DMV threatened to revoke it

Judge rules Tesla owner can keep 'FKGAS' license plate after state DMV threatened to revoke it
A woman gets into her Tesla electric car at a supercharger station in Los AngelesREUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
  • A Rhode Island judge sided with a Tesla owner and the ACLU in a spat over a vanity licence plate.
  • Sean Carroll said he got the 'FKGAS' tags after his daughter said charging the car at home was like fake gas.
  • He's not opposed to other, more profane, interpretations of the plate either.
  • His attorneys argued that the law was overly broad and inconsistently applied when it came to licence plates that break state rules.

A Tesla owner in Rhode Island will be allowed to troll gas-powered cars in traffic for another day.

A state judge issued a preliminary injunction on Friday allowing Sean Carroll to retain his vanity license plate, which reads "FKGAS," while a trial over it plays out. The Department of Motor Vehicles had previously said it would revoke the vanity plate.

Through the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit against the state agency on Carroll's behalf in March, Carroll said he was eager to "continue to see all the smiles, laughter, thumbs up and fist bumps in the rear-view mirror as people continue to read and get the humor in my message."
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According to the complaint, Carroll got the idea when he explained to his daughter how their new electric car could charge from solar panels. She responded that it was like "fake gas," though Carroll admitted in the suit he supported an alternative reading of the plate, which disparages gasoline.

Carroll and the ACLU argued in their lawsuit that while there are rules prohibiting profanity on vanity plates in Rhode Island, the rules are inconsistently and unfairly enforced. Judge Mary McElroy agreed.

"[T]he DMV has prohibited such combinations as AIDS, CHRIST, GAY, JESUS, LESBIAN, REDNECK and YANKEE," she wrote in the injunction. "But it has issued plates that read CHRIST, JEWISH, REDNEC, and REDNEK. It has prohibited words that are typically denigrating, such as CHUBBY and SLOB, but allowed FATT and OLDFRT."
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The state can appeal her ruling. The DMV did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

"We are gratified that Judge McElroy found that Mr. Carroll has a First Amendment right to express his environmental views on his vanity license plate and that the DMV's attempt to cancel his plate likely violates that right," ACLU attorney Thomas Lyons said in a press release.
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