Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Are Kingdom of Hawai‘i License Plates Legal?

October 26, 2015, 7:31 AM HST
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A Kingdom of Hawaii "license plate." Maui Now photo.

A Kingdom of Hawaii “license plate.” Maui Now photo.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Dear Mayor,

Q: Are the many vehicles seen on Maui roads with the “Kingdom of Hawai‘i” license plates are legal? Many have no inspection decals and no visible means of identification other than the yellow “Kingdom of Hawai‘i” plates.

I asked an MPD officer a year or so ago and he indicated they were not legal; however, I see more and more of them. I travel to and from Pukalani and Wailuku daily, in the early morning and mid-afternoon, and I see a vehicle with these plates almost daily. If I see them so often I wonder why MPD does not see them and act on an illegal vehicle? Do they have insurance? Are they paying state weight taxes and county registration fees?

Please explain the county’s position on this and what is being done to assure the general public is protected should an issue arise with an accident involving one of these. I have no ill will against Hawaiians wanting to express their wish for a sovereign nation; however, the state of Hawai‘i laws still need to be obeyed. Thank you and I would appreciate a reply.


A: Vehicles with these plates, along with several other “sovereign” type license plates, are illegal. Motorists operating vehicles with these license plates are consistently cited, but because of their beliefs, they continue to utilize the plates even after being cited.


Many times, the vehicle’s registration and safety inspections have expired, and the motorists are cited for those violations as well. Should they not have insurance, a criminal citation is also issued.

Many police officers repeatedly cite vehicles displaying these types of license plates. Other vehicles with “sovereign” type license plates may have current registration, safety and insurance. However, these vehicles are still illegal because all vehicles for which a tax has been paid pursuant to state law must display license plates that bear the word “Hawai‘i” along the upper portion of the plate and the words “Aloha State” along the lower portion of the plate. State law further requires vehicle owners to securely fasten the number plates on the vehicle, one on the front and the other on the rear, at a location provided by the manufacturer.

Appropriate action is taken by the investigating officer in the event these vehicles become involved in a motor vehicle collision.

Want to Ask the Mayor?

Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.



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