Judge rules Reno man can keep GOBK2CA license plate

The Nevada DMV recalled this license plate after it went viral on Facebook, receiving more...
The Nevada DMV recalled this license plate after it went viral on Facebook, receiving more than 80 thousand likes.(Emily Benito)
Published: Jul. 6, 2023 at 5:09 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Update on Aug. 14: A DMV administrative judge determined that Steelmon does not have to change his license plate in a ruling handed down July 21.

While the judge said nothing about disagreeing with the DMV committee’s assessment that the plate was defamatory, racist, or in poor taste, he said Steelmon can keep it as he is grandfathered in, having had the license plate for 19 years.

However, should Steelmon lapse in paying for the plate, he will lose it and be unable to get it back.

Original Article: A Nevada license plate went viral on Facebook saying, “Go back to California,” and received over 80 thousand likes, but has since been recalled by the Nevada DMV.

Adam Steelmon is the owner of this license plate and says that he has had no issue with the DMV for two decades, until last month.

Steelmon says, “[About a week after the Facebook post] I get a letter from the DMV saying we don’t feel like your license plate is appropriate and here’s a letter saying we’re recalling them.”

“Local law enforcement have pulled me over to tell me they liked my license plate. Texas has pulled me over. In 20 years, I’ve had one person say well I don’t think your license plates are very appropriate,” says Steelmon.

The DMV in Nevada says that it only takes one complaint for a license plate to be reviewed by their special license committee.

“All it takes if for one person to issue or file a complaint. If it goes against the statute, we have a duty to execute on that and recall it,” says Eli Rohl, Public Information Officer for the Nevada DMV in Carson City.

The statute states you may not put these on your license plate:

“Can’t print numbers upside down, can’t do more than 7 numbers, you can’t express contempt, ridicule or superiority of race, ethnic heritage, or gender. Can’t have any sexual, derogatory or obscene. Can’t contain a direct or indirect reference to drugs, or drug paraphernalia, or a gang and it can’t make a defamatory reference to a person or a group,” says Rohl.

The special committee meets every Monday to discuss reported license plates, and they then decide which license plates violate the statute or not.

If you have a recalled plate, you can appeal the committee’s decision by taking the case to a judge that is distinctly separate from the DMV, but still on their payroll.

Steelmon is appealing the recall and will have the hearing July 12.

The judge presiding over his administrative hearing may decide that he’s got the better case. In that event, he’ll keep the plates.