NYC cracking down on illegal license plate covers designed to evade cops, red light cameras and tolls
Framing it as a public safety issue, New York City’s top lawyer on Friday announced a push against the illegal sale of license plater covers, which block cops, toll readers and red-light cameras from identifying vehicles.
City Corporation Counsel Sylvia Hinds-Radix said the crackdown began with cease-and-desist letters sent in February to two top auto parts dealers — Auto Zone and Advance Auto Parts.
Online retailer Amazon agreed last year to stop selling license plate covers.
“This merchandise endangers New Yorkers and it has resulted in significant losses in revenue to the city of New York,” Hinds-Radix said.
“These covers have no legitimate purpose but to allow people to break the law. No family should endure the loss of a loved one at the hands of a reckless driver.”
In the letters, the city estimated that from March 2022 to February, the covers allowed motorists to evade roughly 1.5 million speed and red-light camera violations – even as traffic deaths on the city streets surged 22% to the highest rate since 2014 in the same period.
Assistant Corporation Counsel Eric Proshansky’s letter also estimated that the covers cost the city and the MTA $75 million in lost revenue in recent years.
Hinds-Radix said Advance Auto Parts has already removed the items from the shelves in the company’s 10 New York City locations.
Meanwhile, she said, Auto Zone has agreed verbally to do so. “We await written confirmation from Auto Zone,” Hinds-Radix said. “We made it clear to their legal office that the city is prepared to see them in court.
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“Other retailers engaged in this behavior should take notice. The city is intent on enforcing its laws.”
Under New York City Local Law 22 of 2022, it’s illegal for anyone to sell items that obscure or concealed license plate numbers to distort them so digital readers cannot record the numbers.
The fine for selling the covers is $300 for the first violation and $500 for each subsequent violation.
Police long have been on the lookout for license plate covers.
Port Authority cops busted a Pennsylvania man on the New Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel in May 2022 with a James Bond-style motorized remote-control license plate cover. Similar devices were once sold on Amazon.