Citizen Requesting "Cops Lie" New Hampshire Vanity Plate Wins Reversal in NH Supreme Court

New Hampshire Laws.  The New Hampshire Supreme Court issued an opinion today in the case of Montegro v. New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles, Case Number 2012-624. In 2010 Mr. Montenegro applied for a New Hampshire vanity plate for his motor vehicle.  The plate he sought was "COPS LIE". The employees at the Dover Point DMV substation where he applied denied his application because some of the DMV employees found the "COPS LIE" plate requested to be "insulting".

Mr. Montenegro appealed to the New Hampshire Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles for reconsideration, but the DMV Director concluded that "a reasonable person would find "COPS LIE" to be offensive to good taste".  That standard of "offensive to good taste" was part of an administrative rule on vanity plates, Department of Safety Rule Saf-C 514.61.  The rule did not define what "offensive to good taste" means.  He then appealed to the Commissioner of the Department of Safety, who denied him also for the rationale the DMV Director had done earlier.  He then applied again for "COPS LIE" at the DMV, but this time gave alternative choices if that request was denied again, which it was.  One of his alternative choices was "GOVTSUX", which, based on the outcome of today's decision, may still be available.  Another of the plates he applied for was "GR8GOVT" which the DMV gave him.

Montenegro then appealed to the Strafford County Superior Court for injunctive relief, namely that the Superior Court order the DMV to issue the vanity plate and that the denial of his application for the "COPS LIE" plate violated his right to free speech guaranteed by the state and federal Constitutions.  The Strafford County Superior Court denied his request for relief.

Mr. Montenegro appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, arguing, among other things, that his right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and the free speech clause of the New Hampshire Constitution, Part I, Article 22, were violated by the DMV's refusal to issue him the "COPS LIE" vanity plate.  If you follow the link above (click on the case name) you can read the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in favor of Mr. Montenegro.    

Congratulations Mr. Montenegro.


Have you been busted in New Hampshire of Massachusetts for a crime? Feel free to call Attorney Mark Stevens today at 1-603-893-0074 for a free case consultation.  Attorney Stevens' office is located in Salem, New Hampshire just off I-93 at Exit 2.  

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