NYC Cracks Down on “Ghost Cars”

NYC Cracks Down on “Ghost Cars”

With Halloween just around the corner, we’re turning our attention to “ghost cars” in NYC. But what are they? And how can you avoid being caught out?

All drivers must display valid license plates when driving a car in New York City. However, the number of people caught behind the wheel of ‘ghost cars’ is on the rise.

Ghost cars are vehicles with fake paper license plates – meaning the plates haven’t been authorized by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  

Now authorities are clamping down on these illegal plates. Even better, drivers who report ghost cars could financially benefit as part of a newly proposed bill. 

Here’s what you need to know about NYC’s ghost car crackdown and how it could affect you. 

Ghost cars: a very real problem in NYC 

New York City is taking a hard stance against drivers with ghost cars. And while they’re not as spooky as they sound, they’re certainly causing trouble in NYC.

Cars with fraudulent or obscured license plates can’t be tracked as easily, which means they’re often used by drivers to evade or confuse cameras. This might be to avoid speeding fines, parking fees, tolls, or any other road-related charges or violations. 

Law enforcement officials are also worried about the link between ghost cars and more serious offenses, such as violent crimes. 

Make sure you’re not driving a ghost car

You could face big consequences if you’re caught driving a vehicle with fake license plates. 

Your fellow drivers, riders, and road cameras must be able to read your license plates. As such, you also need to make sure that your plates aren’t obscured. 

Applying tape, installing plastic covers, or scratching off numbers and letters are all methods that some drivers use to intentionally obscure their license plates. However, you could be caught out unintentionally! You need to make sure that your plates aren’t covered by mud, dirt, or snow.

It’s worth noting that paper license plates are sometimes permitted on a temporary basis. However, these are issued by a DMV. Be aware of any paper license plates being sold by third parties, such as online sellers.

What happens to ghost cars that are caught?

Drivers who are caught with fake or covered license plates risk being fined or having their vehicle impounded. Recently, Mayor Adams and his team have suggested immediately auctioning off vehicles that are found with illegal license plates. Over 800 vehicles have already been confiscated in the first 7 months of 2022. 

This is the last thing you want when your car is a source of income.

Of course, there is also the risk of arrest. Recent figures show that this isn’t uncommon, as arrests for illegal plates in NYC have risen by 300% compared to 2016. 

And now a proposed new bill means that law enforcement officials won’t be the only people on the lookout for ghost cars.

 The purpose of the bill is to ‘decrease the incidence of fraudulent and covered license plates by enhancing and rewarding citizen reporting.’

If the bill is passed, NYC will be able to launch a scheme that makes it easier for bystanders to report cars with fake, obscured, or stolen license plates. As a driver or pedestrian, you’ll be able to report potential ghost cars to authorities online.

While the bill aims to help the police crackdown on illegal license plates, there could be an incentive for you too.

Reporting ghost cars: rewards & incentives

By reporting suspicious plates, you could help the authorities to catch drivers avoiding tickets, charges, or violations.

But if the new bill comes into place, you may stand to benefit financially. If your tip-off leads to a fine being issued, you could receive 25% of the proceeds.

According to the New York Daily News, fines could vary from $50 to $1000 depending on the offense and its gravity.

Remember that the bill is still to be passed, so the exact details haven’t yet been confirmed. That said, you don’t need to wait for the scheme to launch to report cars that you think might have illegal license plates.

What to remember

If you think you’ve spotted a car with a fraudulent paper or vinyl license plate, report it to the NYPD. You can also report vehicles with hidden or illegally obscured plates.

Keep vigilant when you’re on the road. Some fraudulent license plates are easier to spot than others, but look out for anything that raises suspicion. 

Don’t forget to also check your own license plates regularly. Be sure that nothing’s covering them, and inspect them for any damage that might make them difficult to read or detect.

At INSHUR, we always want to make life easier for our drivers, whether by keeping you up to date with relevant news or by making sure you’ve got the best insurance cover. 

To find out how we can help and to get a quote for TLC insurance in minutes, check out INSHUR today.


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