New York City says that sneaky drivers are using illegal tactics to avoid paying tolls. They have cost the city $100 million in toll revenue, according to a recent audit.

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The use of ghost plates grew over 5000% since 2019.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander conducted an audit of the NYC Department of Transportation’s speed camera program. The audit found that drivers are using illegal tactics, such as obscured, temporary, or ghost license plates to avoid paying tolls and fines. Lander says that the drivers have cost the city more than $100 million.

Speed cameras reduce speeding, prevent crashes, and save lives. Unfortunately, a small but rapidly growing number of drivers are illegally obscuring their license plates in order to speed without getting caught. These scofflaws are putting their neighbors’ lives and safety at risk – and cheating the City out of $100 million a year.

According to the audit, the speed camera system in the city rejected 1,076,182 or 22 percent of all captured incidents due to ghost plates (748,468; 15.3 percent) or covered plates (327,714; 6.7 percent) between January and June 2023.

Car Dealerships Shut Down To Stop Fake License Plates In New York

Dozens of car dealerships have been closed for issuing fake temporary tags. The "ghost tags" have made their way into New York State.

Photo by NICHOLAS BYRNE on Unsplash
Photo by NICHOLAS BYRNE on Unsplash

What Are Temporary Plates?

In New York State, if you are moving or driving a vehicle that does not have a license plate yet, you will need to obtain a temporary plate from the Department of Motor Vehicles. These paper tags are valid for 30 days. In order to request a temporary plate, you must,

- Complete an In-Transit Permit / Title Application (pdf) (MV-82ITP)
- Provide proof of ownership
- Proof of identity
- Pay the $12.50 fee for an in-transit permit
- Provide proof of insurance

32 Dealerships Have Been Shut Down For License Plate Fraud

According to Streetsblog regulators in New Jersey and Georgia have shut down 32 car dealerships due to temporary license plate fraud. Many of the fake paper tags have ended up on cars in New York. The dealerships have had their licenses revoked or suspended because they were issuing bogus tags.

Streetsblog says that these black markets in New Jersey and Georgia provide phony tags for vehicles in New York, which are often used to commit other crimes.

The ramped-up enforcement is part of a larger effort to throttle the shadow economy for illegal paper plates in the wake of Streetsblog's series, which showed how New Yorkers rely on the out-of-state tags to keep cars unregistered, to drive on suspended licenses or to commit more serious crimes with their identities concealed.

The dealerships involved in the temp tag scheme have been fined, as well as losing their licenses. Some are under criminal investigations.

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