Virginia Veteran’s License Plate Draws Ire

Virginia DMV says personalized license plate encourages violence and is vulgar


The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles says an Iraq war veteran's personalized license plate encourages violence and is vulgar.

Sean Bujno's plate, ICUHAJI, can be read to state: "I see you, Haji." Some Arab-Americans object to that phrase.

A circuit court judge ruled last November that the DMV couldn't deny the Chesapeake man's license on the basis that it denigrated individuals of a particular nationality.

But in a new letter Bujno received from the DMV, the agency signaled the battle over the plate might not be over, saying it's revoking the plates.

Bujno's attorney told The Virginian-Pilot that the use of the word "Haji" is not intended as a slur. He said it simply refers to someone who has made a pilgrimage to Mecca, or the hajj.

His lawyer said Bujno expanded the meaning to include soldiers who have served in Iraq.

The Virginian-Pilot reports: "Bujno, an Army sergeant who was honorably discharged in 2009, displayed the plates on his car for more than four years before the DMV revoked them. In a Nov. 3, 2011, letter, DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb said the tags violated a prohibition on letter combinations that could reasonably be interpreted as being 'socially, racially, or ethically offensive or disparaging'."

At a new hearing scheduled for March 13, Bujno and his attorney plan to argue that the DMV is violating Bujno's free-speech rights.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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