Sheriff’s Office, NYPD to crackdown on ‘ghost cars’
If you’re using a fake license plate, city may tow your car
On Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office and the NYPD announced to drivers that the sheriff’s office will tow and potentially auction off vehicles with fake and illegal license plates. The NYPD has issued 16,448 tickets and towed over 1,700 vehicles since July 2021.
On June 25, a Honda with an incorrect and expired South Carolina license plate evaded a car stop in Brooklyn and struck several people, fatally injuring a 67-year-old grandmother and critical injuring an 8-year-old boy.
“Ghost cars” or those which bear fraudulent or obstructed license plates are fueling an epidemic of untraceable cars harming and killing pedestrians, bicyclists and the most vulnerable: the elderly, children and other at-risk groups. New York State law and traffic rules mandate that covering a car’s license plate is illegal in the city of New York.
Additionally, police officers and traffic enforcement agents have issued a combined 13,250 parking summonses to vehicles with covered license plates, towed 1,700 vehicles and seized 2,478 vehicles. The sheriff’s office has seized over 800 vehicles since July 2021. Arrests involving temporary license plates rose to 3,568 in 2021, a 300% increase compared with the 893 arrests in 2016.
The obstructed or temporary plates evade the city’s speed and red-light cameras, which are resulting in upticks of dangerous traffic violations. Temporary licenses can be acquired easily online and there is no database containing temporary paper plate information of all states: law enforcement and state agencies have access to just 11 of 50, which makes it difficult for patrolling officers to obtain registration data. Fake and obstructed license plates are key in criminal activity.
“We are towing ghost cars because we know the drivers of these cars are up to no good,” said
“The law is coming after anyone who tries to make their car untraceable. We will not allow vehicles to be weaponized and our streets to be turned into a battlefield.”
“An illegal license plate is not a harmless act,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip
“It is a clear indication that a person is not willing to operate within the most basic legal
framework of society. Ghost cars and the reckless behavior of their owners are a threat to every
New Yorker on the road. I applaud the mayor’s efforts to address this issue head on.”
“The issue of ensuring that legitimate, legible, license plates remain a viable tool in our collective efforts to ensure safe streets demands our immediate attention, at every level,” said Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell.
“The urgency of this issue is reflected in the NYPD’s ongoing efforts. We will defeat this public-safety threat. We will eradicate fake and obscured license plates that create what are essentially a class of untraceable, ghost cars moving among us. And we need all our law enforcement and government partners pulling with us in this same direction.”
It is illegal to drive vehicles with fraudulent or obstructed license plates in New York City. It is also illegal to park such vehicles on the city’s streets. The NYPD strategy is to focus with precision on where such vehicles are parked – often overnight – so they can be safely towed.
“Over the course of the pandemic, DOT has seen an alarming increase in the number of fake and
temporary license plates on vehicles, which evade our automated enforcement and worse, have
been involved in a growing number of high-speed fatal crashes,” said DOT Commissioner
“Now, under Mayor Adams’ leadership, we will have both 24/7 speed-camera coverage starting August 1 — as well as this serious crackdown on fake plates. We are grateful to our partners at the Sheriff and NYPD for their comprehensive plan to safely and efficiently remove these cars, which will immediately make our streets safer.”
“We are committed to taking these vehicles out of circulation. If your vehicle is parked with a
fraudulent or obstructed plate, it will be ticketed, towed, and removed to an NYPD tow pound,”
said NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Y. Royster.
“The safety of all New Yorkers is our top priority and traffic safety is public safety.”
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