08/08/2016 10:07 EDT | Updated 08/09/2017 01:12 EDT

N.B. criminal lawyer wins back controversial 'DUI DR' licence plates

FREDERICTON — The New Brunswick Court of Appeal says motor vehicle authorities were unreasonable when they revoked a criminal lawyer's controversial "DUI DR" vanity plates.

Wendell Maxwell has practised criminal law — with emphasis on impaired driving cases — for 48 years.

He first sought the plates in 2008, and though the Department of Motor Vehicles expressed concern, it issued them after he threatened legal action.

But in late 2014, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles received several complaints about the plates, including from the national and Fredericton chapters of MADD.

Within days, the registrar told Maxwell the plates had been "erroneously issued," told him to return them, and sent him new licence plates.

He took the registrar to court, and in a ruling dated Aug. 4, three appeal judges upheld a lower court ruling that Maxwell was denied due process and ordered he get his plates back.

Maxwell uses the "DUI DR" acronym in his practice, and acknowledges it was intended to mean "driving under the influence."