Vietnam veteran upset after Utah DMV denies appeal for ’69’ license plate

ST. GEORGE (ABC 4 Utah) – A southern Utah man says just because the state seems to have its mind in the gutter, it doesn’t mean everyone else does. 

Vietnam veteran Arnold Breitenbach, 67, attempted to obtain a purple heart license plate “CIB-69” but was denied. 

Breitenbach served in the Vietnam war in 1969 and was awarded the Purple Heart badge among other distinguished honors for his service. 

In September of 2013, Breitenbach said he saw a neighbor drive with the purple heart license plate “CIB-70” and also wanted to get one too.

“The man actually told me he also served in 1969, just like me, but DMV didn’t let him get a ’69’. He said they disallowed it and I thought that was kind of silly. I didn’t really believe him,” he said. 

Breitenbach then went to the DMV and  applied for a plate. 

” I was frustrated that the license plate was denied. It was ridiculous so I asked for an appeal,” Breitenbach told ABC4’s Tasmin Mahfuz. 

He said he then sent a letter to local representatives and Governor Herbert.

“That took me to a hearing on the telephone with a judge and two representatives from the DMV. They said they didn’t want to deny a combat infantryman but it was because of the law,” he explained. 

Utah DMV told him they would send him their final decision within two months.

It was until 6 months later in January of 2015, Breitenbach said he was surprised when the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles also denied his appeal. The letter said “69” was impermissible because it refers to a sex act. 

“I didn’t know what they were talking about and I don’t think many people would know,” his wife Sandy said. 

The letter also explained the exceptions to the “69” rule stating,

“Administrative Rule R873-22M-34 is clear regarding the use of ’69’ on personalized plates – ’69’ formats are prohibited unless used in a combination with the vehicle make, model, style, type, or commonly used or readily understood abbreviations of those terms.”

Breitenbach was upset that the purple heart and Combat Infantryman Badge “CIB” didn’t fall under the exceptions for “commonly used or readily understood.”

“My argument was people know what a purple heart is, and I think most people would know what a CIB is for combat infantry badge.  All I wanted was a purple heart CIB-69 for when I was there. There’s nothing derogatory about it,” Breitenbach said. 

Breitenbach said he’s disappointed by the decision and hopes in the future, the purple heart along with the CIB, will be enough for the state to grant an exception to the law. 

“So far, everyone who I’ve talked to said they’re shocked that the state of Utah could be backwards enough to deny the appeal. I think the governor could’ve grant a waiver and let it go because I don’t think it’s a big deal and I think most citizens don’t think so either,” he said.

Breitenbach had an opportunity to request a second appeal but said he didn’t want to invest in the time and money for attorney fees so he resorted to buy a license plate with only the purple heart logo without the ’69’.

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