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Offensive license plate recall

Offensive license plate recall

Sept. 13, 1973: Burt Blum, a 39-year-old Encino builder and accountant, points out his personalized car license plate that the Department of Motor Vehicles wanted to recall as “offensive.”

Times staff writer Narda Z. Trout explained the next morning:

A new Department of Motor Vehicles policy which provides for the recall of “offensive” personalized license plates is not yet 2 weeks old, and it is already being challenged.

The DMV; which began issuing the personalized plates in 1970, now has the legislative authority to recall issued plates “if they are considered offensive to good taste and decency.”

Last week the first recall notices were sent to Californians….

“All were the result of one or more complaints,” said Paul Thorgrimson, a DMV deputy registrar in Sacramento.

Burt Blum was requested to return his plates, but instead hired an attorney and filed an appeal.

“I didn’t mean to be offensive and I don’t think it is in poor taste,” said Blum, who added, “It is a restraint of free expression. Who has the right to decide what’s decent or indecent?”

This portrait of Blum by Times staff photographer John Malmin was published with Trout’s story on The Times’ Metro section front page on Sept. 14, 1973. There was no follow-up story in The Times.

The DMV at this website states:

The department has the right to refuse any combination of letters and/or letters and numbers that may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency, or which would be misleading or in conflict with any license plate series now issued.


  1. March 9, 2012, 10:56 am

    Maybe his wardrobe should be recalled. Polka dot shirt and plaid pants.

  2. March 9, 2012, 11:13 am

    I tried back in the early '80's to register my VW Diesel Rabbit: DZLBNS as in DIESEL BUNNY and the DOL refused. I feel for this man.

    By: halfmac
  3. March 10, 2012, 9:23 am

    Hello! His clown outfit is a major felony! Forget the license plate.

    By: MayHem

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