BMV vanity plate hearing delayed for third time

(WISH Photo, file)
(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana drivers hoping to apply for new vanity license plates are being hit with a third delay in as many months, this time at the request of the new commissioner of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The legal battle surrounding the program has been ongoing since July, and now won’t be settled until at least April. That’s when a judge could rule on whether the state’s BMV will be forced to reinstate the program.

The BMV suspended the state’s personal license plate (PLP) program in July after Greenfield Police Corporal Rodney Vawter filed a lawsuit, claiming the agency’s decision to revoke his personalized plate was unconstitutional. Vawter’s plate reads “0INK” next to a Fraternal Order of Police logo.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on Vawter’s behalf, filed a motion in November requesting a summary judgment, or immediate ruling in the case. The motion contends that “there are no contested issues of fact,” and that Vawter and others in the class action lawsuit are entitled to “appropriate injunctive and declaratory relief.”

The motion also requests the BMV be ordered to immediately reinstate the suspended PLP program.

The BMV responded to the ACLU’s request in December, prompting Marion County Judge James Osborn to set a Jan. 21 hearing in the case. Early last month, the two sides asked for more time to prepare. That prompted Judge Osborn to set a new hearing date in early March.

That date was extended late last week yet again at the request of newly-named BMV Commissioner Don Snemis, according to court records.

The motion for summary judgment comes in the wake of an I-Team 8 investigation in October that found inconsistencies in how the BMV decides what personal license plate requests to approve and deny.

Many of the examples uncovered by I-Team 8′s investigation are cited as evidence in the case.

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