Q. Is it legal to park your own car, on a public street, in a position that blocks your own driveway?
– Kathleen Leichtfuss, Villa Park
Certainly doesn’t mean you will get cited – and the vehicle towed – but in theory it could lead to that.
Your town is patrol by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department as you know, Kathleen. How the scenario is handled is up to the deputy or the agency’s community-service officer who sees it.
“The deputy or CSO will generally attempt to contact the vehicle’s owner and get compliance to move the vehicle,” Sgt. Scott Steinle told Honk in an email.
“However, based on the (California) Vehicle Code and the tow authority Vehicle Code, a vehicle parked in front of a residential driveway may be cited and may be towed,” he said.
Those are state laws, albeit police agencies for other communities may handle things differently.
Q. I recently saw a truck with a vanity license-plate number that was scary. I thought license-plate numbers were screened for inappropriate messages. I stayed away from that vehicle. Has the state changed the criteria?
– Helen Morris, Torrance
A. The big picture remains the same: The Department of Motor Vehicles is to block offensive license-plate sequences that touch on:
- Sexual connotation
- Vulgarity, prejudice or hostility
- Profanity or obscenity
- Misrepresentation of a police agency
Getting an approval by the DMV doesn’t ensure that a personalized license-plate sequence will be out there on the roads forever.
If someone perceives a license-plate number is offensive, he or she can file a complaint with the DMV. The agency would again consider if there is a message that doesn’t meet the state’s standards and could ask that the plates be returned.
Helen, you can report an offensive plate by writing to:
Department of Motor Vehicles, Policy Division, P.O. Box 825393, Sacramento, Calif. 94232-5393.
Now, what is offensive?
To the DMV, “COYW” was indeed offensive. It stands for “Come On You Whites.”
But Jonathan Kotler, a USC media-law associate professor, was just pulling for his Fulham soccer team out of London. That acronym is a cheer for the team that wears white jerseys.
The case went to federal court and, in a settlement The Associated Press reported in 2020, he was allowed to have the plate sequence.
(Full disclosure: Honk had his terrific class decades ago.)
Recent lawsuits, such as Kotler’s, have helped prompt the DMV to refine its guidelines so “decisions are viewpoint neutral” in compliance with court rulings, a DMV representative told Honk.
To ask Honk questions, reach him at [email protected] He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk. Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk