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License Plates Archives

Widow Beats DMV to Get Veteran's Benefits

A determined Billings, Montana widow got an apology and a check from DMV after it wrongly denied her benefits under a disabled veteran's law. Evelyn Pierce's husband Billy-a disabled Korean war veteran-died in 1999 and DMV confiscated his disabled veteran's license plates. Under Montana law at the time, a surviving spouse was not eligible to retain the plates or to have registration fees waived. Montana changed the law in 2003 but DMV persisted in denying Pierce the waiver of the registration fees. After enlisting the aid of State Senator Roger Webb, Pierce was finally given a refund and an apology.

"ICUHAJI" Battle Returns to DMV

The Iraqi War veteran's vanity plate "ICUHAJI" has acquired a life of its own in a battle between former Army sniper Sean Bujno and Virginia's DMV.  At issue is whether the message "I see you, Haji" is derogatory to Arabs and Muslims and in violation of Virginia's regulations against such messages appearing on vanity plates. Bujno won his first round in court with a judge's ruling declaring the regulations to be unconstitutional "viewpoint discrimination." His case was then sent back to DMV to see if it could justify the revocation of the plates on some other ground. DMV decided it could still deny Bujno the plates on other, legal grounds, and Bujno again took the case to court. This time the judge ruled that Bujno had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies with DMV before filing suit (a necessary step before invoking a court's jurisdiction). So Bujno is now headed back to DMV to exhaust his remedies there before (assuming he loses) the court will hear his appeal. FWIW, the Virginia-Pilot has sort-of sided with Bujno, arguing that the Virginia regulations are vague.

California Driver Loses "NOT SEE" Vanity Plate

"NOT SEE." Get it? California's DMV canceled Shawn Calipto's Nazi-referenced vanity plate, and the San Diego Unified School District laced him on leave from his job as a school bus driver. Apparently the plate itself went unnoticed for some time, but the swastika he displayed above it garnered so much attention that some folks connected the dots and complained.