Rejected personalized (aka "vanity) license plates in 2013 (Maine)

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the Secretary of State, Bureau of Motor Vehicles of Maine.
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From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Maine Freedom of Access Act ("FOAA"), I hereby request the following records:

A list of all personalized license plate number applications that were rejected for the year 2013.

If available I am also looking for:

-The reason for the rejection of the personalized plate.
-The vehicle make and model.
-The City and County where the applicants vehicle would be registered.

I am NOT looking for any personal identifiable information such as first and last name, street number, street name.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as we believe this request is in the public interest, as suggested but not stipulated by 1 M.R.S.A. § 408(6). The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.


Shawn Musgrave

From: Office, SOS

Thank you for taking the time to contact me; this message is to confirm that I have received your e-mail and am taking the appropriate steps to follow-up.

Your questions, concerns and suggestions are important and depending on the nature of the issue, I may ask one of my colleagues to contact you directly in order to ensure that you receive a timely and informed response.

In the meantime, for news and information on issues directly related to the Department of the Secretary of State, please visit our website at
Best Wishes,

Matthew Dunlap
Secretary of State

From: Couture, Melissa

Mr. Musgrave,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding a Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) request for:

"A list of all personalized license plate number applications that were rejected for the year 2013.

If available I am also looking for:

- The reason for the rejection of the personalized plate.
- The vehicle make and model.
- The City and County where the applicants vehicle would be registered."

When a vanity license plate request is made it is put through the Van Test, a program the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) uses to see if the plate has already been issued or is too many characters for the type of plate the driver wants; it is also checked against a list of words/phrases that are generally deemed unacceptable to issue - we refer to as the Bleep List.

If the request is made via the Vanity Plate Search & Order Online Service and is flagged for any of the aforementioned reasons, the applicant will receive a message that says, Sorry, Plate Number: *** with class code *** is unavailable. Please try another selection. The program does not distinguish between reasons for the rejection and no record is created.

Drivers who apply for a vanity plate in person and are requesting something that is rejected due to a hit on the Bleep List are advised by the clerk that their plate cannot be issued and again, no record is created.

The law does give the Secretary of State the ability to recall a vanity plate (Title 29-A §453, 3-A) , which is the only time that the BMV would have a tangible record of the information you have requested. The Secretary of State did not pull any vanity plates in 2013; therefore, there is no data available to send you in response to this FOAA request.

If you have any questions, or if I may be of further assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Best Regards,

Melissa M. Couture
Director of Constituent Services
Office of the Secretary of State
(207) 626-8400


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