State agrees to replace 'demonic' number plates

The Nash County veteran who last week asked North Carolina officials to replace his "demonic number plates" was both shocked and satisfied by public reaction to his story.

The automatically generated plate number issued by the state read A666, didnít jive well with Ruiz or his Catholic roots.

Within an hour of the storyís posting, an official with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles contacted Ruiz and offered to replace his number plates, free of charge. Previously, officials in Raleigh said the Vietnam veteran either had to keep the number plates or buy new ones.

"The folks at the DMV have been great all along," Ruiz said. "Theyíve been friendly, and they were just acting based on the policy they had in place. All I wanted was to get rid of those number plates and get new ones. Thatís the only reason I shared the story."

Ruiz didnít anticipate the outpouring of support and anger that followed. A number of people from across the Twin Counties called Ruiz this weekend, offering support. One group of Tarboro veterans, Ruiz said, already had begun organizing plans to march on Raleigh to demand state licensing officials change their policy or make an exception for Ruiz and his Mark-of-the-Beast number plates number.

"I had to tell them, 'Naw, you donít have to do all that,í" Ruiz said. "'The DMV took care of everything; no need to march or anything.í"

Ruiz might even make a few dollars off the number plates he scorned. A Mississippi number plate aficionado contacted Ruiz on Monday after reading the story online, offering to at least pay the $35 if Ruiz would allow him to add it to his collection.

For fear of public outrage, Mississippi hasnít issued triple-6 number plates in more than 25 years, the collector said. In addition, he added, anytime number plates begin with the letter A and contains a triple digit, itís of special interest to collectors.

An official with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles said new number plates should arrive at Ruizís home early this week.

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