Personalized license plate deemed 'offensive' by MVD

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

When you first meet Ron and Barbara Hallebach, you might think they're newlyweds. They take long walks together and they still hold hands. You'll even find them stealing kisses from each other.

The couple wanted to publicly express their admiration for one another by ordering personalized license plates.

Currently, Ron's car displays the plate RNB8888. It's somewhat of a cryptic message, but it actually means something to this couple.

"Our initials are R and B, which stands for Ron and Barb, and 8888 stands for our wedding anniversary," Barbara said. "We were married on Aug. 8, 1988, in Sedona, Arizona."

It sounds logical and since Barbara drives around a lot, she wanted to get a similar license plate.

So, she ordered RNB, except she dropped one of the plate numbers to just 888. In other words, the plate would read RNB888.

However, after paying Arizona's Motor Vehicle Division for the personalized plate, the agency wrote Barbara a letter with bad news.

"It was denied because they said it could be offensive and possibly misleading to the public," she said.

Wait a minute. How could her husband's license plate be acceptable, but dropping the last number on her license plate make it offensive or misleading?

The Hallebachs said they were puzzled and appealed the ruling. But, the decision was denied a second time.

Barbara and Ron say they don't mind the denial, but the explanation they say is head-scratching and they couldn't get anyone at the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles to explain the matter.

So, the couple contacted 3 On Your Side in hopes of getting an answer.

"We just want to see if there is any chance that Gary Harper could find out something that we couldn't because it made no sense to us," Barbara said.

A spokesman with MVD wasn't quite sure why the plate request would be deemed offensive or misleading either. However, the agency said it would be happy to look into the matter to ensure the correct decision was made or at least provide a definitive explanation for the denial.

Barbara said she and her husband would really like to have the personalized plate, but even if it's denied again they'd like to hear how their plate request could be construed as being offensive.

"It's just our initials and our anniversary date for a loving couple," Barbara said.

MVD continues to look into the matter. 3 On Your Side expects to hear back from them next week and we will do a follow-up report.