In New York City, the rate of unreadable license plates caught on speed cameras rose in 2022, prompting concerns from safety advocates about scofflaw drivers.

2 minute read

February 16, 2023, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Close-up of license plate on blue car covered in mud, license plate is unreadable.

Evtushkova Olga / Obstructed license plate

New York City Department of Transportation data reveal that the city has seen a growth in the rate of unreadable license plates caught on automated speed cameras, peaking at 7.38 percent in August of 2022. According to an article by Gersh Kuntzman in Streetsblog NYC, “As a result of unreadable plates — which can result from a car bearing temporary plates, no plates, or defaced or covered plates — the city has lost as much as $38.7 million in unissued tickets since January 2019.”

Aside from lost revenue, safety advocates worry about the impact of scofflaw drivers on road safety. Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives “Drivers who use illegal or fake license plates to avoid accountability make streets more dangerous for all New Yorkers. Our city and state leaders must investigate and put an end to the rise of illegal plates that also steal revenue from critical government programs.”

Kuntzman outlines some key trends: the rate of unreadable plates rose at the same time as the city installed more automated enforcement cameras and coincided with the start of the pandemic, which led to more fraudulent tags as DMV offices closed. “An additional spike in unreadable plates occurred in 2022, when the city’s speed-camera program expanded into a 24-7-365 system, up from just daytime hours on weekdays, providing more incentive for scofflaw drivers to find ways to evade tolls.”

Monday, February 13, 2023 in StreetsBlog NYC

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