20-year-old plate revoked

CARSON CITY -- You could say that Stacy Moore is anything but ecstatic these days.

The Department of Motor Vehicles recently informed the native Nevadan that the personalized license plate she has proudly displayed on her vehicles for 20 years -- XSTACY -- must be surrendered to the agency.

The decision came after a single unidentified motorist complained, apparently out of a belief that the plate was making a reference to the designer drug Ecstasy.

Moore, 41, said nothing could be further from the truth, and she is seeking legal help to challenge the decision.

"This is a form of censorship, a First Amendment issue," the North Las Vegas resident said in a telephone interview. "I'm upset that one person has this much pull.

"I've never used drugs," she said. "The worst I've ever done is smoke cigarettes."

Moore said she was a young woman enjoying life when she decided to get a personalized license plate. Her name Stacy was taken, so Moore thought it would be a clever play on words to use XSTACY on her plate.

"I was in college and cute and XSTACY was a play on my name," she said. "I wanted some attention."

Now, even though she is no longer seeking attention and drives a silver Chevrolet TrailBlazer instead of her 1970s Camaro, Moore still wants her plate.

At an administrative hearing earlier this month appealing the decision to pull the plate, Moore said she read definitions of the word ecstasy from a 1988 dictionary. They included a state of being and another referring to spirituality toward God.

To have someone's first reaction to the plate to be an assumption that it refers to a drug is sad, Moore said.

"A person who doesn't know one thing about me," she said.

The DMV's Web site says that personalized plates are allowed as long as they are not offensive or in bad taste.

Kevin Malone, a spokesman for the agency, said Nevada administrative code specifically bans combinations of letters that directly or indirectly refer to a drug or drug paraphernalia, which was the ruling at an administrative hearing by the judge who heard Moore's case.

"It was not a preferred reference to a drug when it was issued in 1988, but it is a preferred reference to a drug today," Malone said. "People could very well find it offensive to see it on a license plate. We do have to stick to the letter of the law and withdraw that plate."

The agency will immediately start the process to recall plates if the combination of letters obviously spells out a category that is banned, which also includes gang references, sexual references and those that are aimed disparagingly at race, religion or ethnicity, he said.

Complaints come in fairly regularly, Malone said.

Nine times out of 10, those that violate the code contain a sexual reference, and they are never appealed because the owners know they will lose in a hearing, he said.

Appeals such as the one sought by Moore happen only a couple of times a year.

Malone said Moore has 30 days plus three days for mailing time to seek court review or surrender the plate.

The agency tries to check for questionable plates before they are issued, he said. The state has a database of 3,600 combinations it checks against requests. The information is being updated all the time, Malone said.

Moore who grew up in Las Vegas not far from the Sahara Avenue DMV office, said she has a fall-back position if her fight to keep XSTACY fails.

"I've got STACYM reserved," she said.