New York Daily News
Snitch on bogus vehicle plates, get 25% of fine
New Yorkers may soon get a financial incentive for tattling on motorists with bogus or obscured license plates, the Daily News has learned.
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes on Tuesday introduced a bill that will allow New York City and other state municipalities to create an online program in which a bystander can report spotting a license plate they believe to be obscured, as well as “stolen, false or fraudulent.”
The city will follow up on complaints, and if tickets are given out, tipsters will get 25% of the fine, the bill states.
Fines vary due to the severity of the offense, but can range from $50 to $1,000. Those caught with fraudulent license plates and the equipment to make more can face four years in prison, as well as fines of up to $5,000.
Since the pandemic, motorists have used covered and bogus plates to fool speed and red-light cameras as well as computerized toll readers on the city’s bridges and tunnels.
Gounardes (D-Brooklyn) believes this tipster program will ultimately encourage motorists to follow the law and be safer drivers.
“Coming at this from a street-safety lens, we want to make sure that people aren’t violating the law twice, once by speeding and the other by obstructing their license plates to avoid speed cameras,” Gounardes said. “Covering up your license plates, speeding through school zones all add up and make [these motorists] terrible neighbors.”
At the beginning of the summer, the NYPD, state police and the MTA vowed to crack down on bogus and obscured license plates.
Since 2017, the MTA’s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, with the help of the state police, have given out 36,000 summonses for obscured, blocked and forged license plates. They’ve also towed 6,200 vehicles of motorists with unpaid fines.
Last year, cops arrested 225 people on city streets and highways with fraudulent plates. Another 400 motorists were summonsed, the NYPD said.
“This is not going to be a top priority for law enforcement, so why should we have that expectation placed on them?” Gounardes asked. “This will empower people on the ground to help enforce the law.”
Gounardes’ new bill will be reviewed by the Transportation Committee when the next legislative session begins.
On Tuesday, Mayor Adams announced that the NYPD and the city sheriff’s office will begin to tow and auction off cars caught with illegal, fake or paper license plates.