A vanity license plate reading “DEPORTM” has raised concerns in a Utah after a photo of the plate was posted on Twitter.
Matt Pacenza, a high school teacher in Utah, posted a photo of the license plate on Thursday, which reads as “deport ’em” when said aloud.
“Hey (Utah Driver License Division), how does this plate I just saw not violate your guidelines?” he wrote.
The tweet has received more than 100 responses from upset commenters, who wrote things like “horrific” and “that should never have been accepted by the DMV.”
Tammy Kikuchi, public information officer with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, confirmed to CNN affiliate KSL that the “DEPORTM” plate was approved in 2015.
Though the First Amendment protects offensive speech that aren’t true threats or incitements to violence, there are specific guidelines for customized license plates.
Utah law prohibits plate combinations that are “vulgar, derogatory, profane or obscene,” and “Express contempt, ridicule or superiority of a race, religion, deity, ethnic heritage, gender, or political affiliation,” according to the DMV’s website.
Daniel Thatcher, a Republican state senator, replied to Pacenza’s tweet, saying he reached out to the Driver License Division and was awaiting an answer.
The next day, he wrote that the state Tax Commission is aware of the plate and investigating.
He later continued, saying the plate was using “State resources to promote divisiveness and racism.”
The issue has caused such a stir, it is scheduled to be discussed at the Utah Legislature’s next administrative rules review committee meeting on Wednesday, according to state Sen. Luz Escamilla.
Representatives from the DMV and the Tax Commission are scheduled to attend the meeting, meant to explore how decisions granting or denying personalized license plates are made.
CNN affiliate KUTV asked the DMV for vanity license plates that have previously been rejected and received more than 100 proposals. Among them were “SAUSAGE,” “NSTYHOE,” “W1NGMAN,” and “PLAN B.”