Santa Triumphs Over DMV and Wins Right to 'Obscene' License Plate

Screengrab via WSFA.
Screengrab via WSFA.

The War on Christmas is real and it’s happening at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Happily, Santa has won the most recent skirmish.


Dave Reid is one of those guys who lives as Santa more-or-less year round. Reid has even gone so far as to tag his car with festive decals that read “North Pole” and “My Other Ride Is A Sleigh.” If stickers don’t convince you, Reid’s 1999 4Runner also features themed license plates. “Ho Ho,” they say, as though to indicate the driver is chuckling to himself as he spreads seasonal joy down the highway.

At least, they said, “Ho Ho,” until the state of Alabama denied his renewal form, deeming the exclamation of amusement offensive. WSFA reports that Reid was shocked that a license plate sporting a deer could be suspected of a double entendre:

“...People drive by me on the interstate so everyone can wave and take a picture. Who is offended by that? It’s ridiculous.”

The censored Santa was forced to take a standard tag home from the probate office that day, but he couldn’t let the issue go.

“I went on the computer where you can reserve your tags,” Reid explained. “I tried several variations. When you type H-O it locks up. I typed in UA, like the University of Alabama, space H-O-E, and it took it! Essentially, I could be driving around a license plate that says UA HOE, but I can’t have a license plate that says HO HO.”

Reid believes this censorship is an issue of free speech, and an infringement on his rights as citizen making merry. He says, “When you live with the spirit of Christmas year round, when you project that spirit to the children, wherever you meet them, whenever you meet them, it’s a slap in the face when a government entity says that’s offensive.”

Reid’s persistent complaints on the issue have had a happy outcome. WSFA contacted Alabama’s Department of Revenue on his behalf, and though they haven’t heard back, the attention of a local news affiliate has won the day. Reid was notified on Monday night that he’d ride with his Hos again. He was told he could pick up a temporary plate on Tuesday and should receive permanent ones with a couple weeks. If Santa gets pulled over this Christmas, he’ll have his registration papers in order.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin



I had a 1999 Toyota 4Runner (which I bought new the better part of 2 decades ago) up until 4 months ago. Everybody was bugging me to sell it. It had terrible gas mileage and the upholstery was starting to wear in some places, but I loved that car. It had 280,000 miles on it and it ran like a champ. It took on everything I threw at it and asked for more. I finally broke down and let it go for a song 4 months ago and when I did, it was tough driving away from it. I even asked the new owners if I could have a minute to just look at her one last time. Oh, man...I’m getting all emotional as I’m typing this...