HONOLULU (KHON2) — Offensive language and profanity on personal license plates. The city wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again after an offensive personalized plate slipped through the cracks.

The director of the department of customer services said they want to revise their existing rules.

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“It’s a cheap little thing to do to add some fun to your car,” said a car owner with ‘OKPK’ as her license plate, who did not want to give her name.

Personalized license plates make vehicles easily identifiable.

That’s one of the reasons why ‘OKPK’ got her vanity plate.

“It’s easy to remember and spot,” she said.

While her personalized plate is tame, the word ‘ok’ with her initials, some of the applications the city gets are not according to Kim Hashiro, director of the Department of Customer Services.

“Last year, we rejected about 230 applications that were deemed inappropriate,” Hashiro explained.

While she said most plates are fine — they approved 3,300 last year — the city still wants to revise the rules to make them clearer so there’s no misunderstanding of what’s appropriate and what’s not.

“In addition to cleaning up some outdated language, the proposed rule changes strengthen what is considered to be language that is obscene or profane.”

The city also wants to include upside down and backwards letters and substituting numbers for letters.

Hashiro said the rules already prohibit prejudice, hostility, contempt and profanity.

Even with those guidelines something fell through the cracks.

The city is currently in a legal dispute over a license plate they approved, then recalled after realizing it was offensive.

Car owner Jamie Guevara said he’s not surprised.

“As long as you give people the liberty to do what they want they’ll try to usually push the boundaries and see what they can get away with,” Guevara said.  “That’s perfectly fine so long as it’s not really offending and imposing upon anybody.”

Car owner Alex Deutsch said he doesn’t understand why people need personalized plates and that he does think the rules need to be more strict.

“I do,” Deutsch said. “Especially if people are using it to go against groups of people and especially use profanity with kids on the roads all the time.”

Not everyone thinks revising the rules is necessary.

“I think we have bigger fish to fry,” said ‘OKPK’. “Let’s concentrate on more important things.”

The city is holding a public hearing 9 a.m. May 24th at Kapolei Hale on the proposed personalized license plate rules. They are asking for community feedback. Click here for more information.

Personalized vehicle license plates are a popular add-on for many.

O‘ahu residents are being asked for their input regarding Honolulu’s new rules that have been designed to rein in potential offensive language that many motorists want to affix to their Hawaiʻi license plates.

The Motor Vehicle Registration Branch in the City and County of Honolulu said it has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed personalized license plate rules for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 24 at Kapolei Hale.

The proposed rules have brought renewed attention to ongoing efforts to ensure that personalized license plates in the City and County of Honolulu comply with statewide rules of decency. 

The City and County of Honolulu said that its proposed rules aim to reverse an estimated six percent increase over the past three years in the number of applications that have been rejected for license plates that are profane, encourage violence, refer to genitalia or are sexually explicit in some way.

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“With license plates being a very visible aspect of any vehicle, we are focused on continuing to apply clear, objective and reasonable guidelines for the number and letter combinations in applications we receive for personalized license plates,” said Department of Customer Services Director Kim Hashiro, whose oversight responsibilities include motor vehicle registration.