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Port Authority, MTA teaming up to catch drivers who use fake or obstructed license plates to avoid tolls

NY, NJ authorities cracking down on fake, obstructed license plates
NY, NJ authorities cracking down on fake, obstructed license plates 02:32

NEW YORK -- The MTA, Port Authority and their law enforcement partners are kicking off the summer driving season with a campaign to nab people who drive with fake or obstructed license plates.

It costs the agencies millions of dollars and officials are determined to go after drivers who break the law to avoid tolls, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Friday.

On May 17, the driver of a black BMW thought he scored a free ride when he used a mechanical device to cover his rear license plate and passed through the cashless entry into the Holland Tunnel.

Port Authority cops had the last laugh. They caught him and discovered he owed $1,320 to the Port Authority and nearly $23,000 to the MTA for unpaid bridge and tunnel tolls. He was arrested and charged with crimes.

"Messing with your license plate or removing it is definitely not a road you want to take," said Robin Bramwell-Stewart from the Port Authority.

Bramwell-Stewart, one of several New York and New Jersey transit and law enforcement officials, announced a joint crackdown on scofflaws who use fake or obstructed plates to avoid paying tolls.

"We will do everything within our power to catch you and hold you accountable," Bramwell-Stewart said.

The Port Authority and MTA are using license plate readers and other high-tech devices to find people trying to ride for free across the bridges and tunnels in the region.

The Port Authority has been particularly successful.

"This year alone, the Port Authority Police Department has written more than 4,000 summonses for toll evasion for people who owe a total of more than $1.7 million collectively. Since 2018, more than 51,000 vehicle registrations have been suspended for failure to pay tolls," Bramwell-Stewart said.

What's different about this new effort, which begins at the start of summer driving season, is that everybody is getting into the act - State Police, NYPD, New York City Sheriff, Port Authority and MTA.

MTA head Janno Lieber says think twice if you have a fake license plate or a device to hide your plate.

"If you have anything like that now affixed to your plate, attached to your plate, it would be wise to remove it because you're going to get stopped by a Bridge and Tunnel officer or one of our brother and sister agencies, and we will collect on the money that you owe us," Lieber said.

Repeat offenders be warned: you can lose your license and your car can be impounded.

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