DMV/NYSP trying to crack down on fake license plates

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — New York State says it’s trying to crack down on drivers who use fake license plates to circumvent insurance and registration requirements. The plates are also being used to avoid tolls, evade speed cameras and commit crimes, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A few weeks ago, a pair of jet-skis were stolen out of a driveway along Beach Avenue in Rochester. Security video from the location shows a suspect get out of a small SUV, attach the trailer to a hitch and then push up what appears to be a paper license plate on the back of the SUV to avoid detection.

Investigators with the NYS DMV say those occurrences are not all that uncommon, “if you go online to Facebook Marketplace or Craig’s List and search ‘in-transit permits’ –you’ll see multiple ads coming up to this day of people selling them,” says Owen McShane, the Deputy Commissioner of the DMV.

In-transit permits are issued by other states, “if you go to New Jersey and buy a car and bring it back to Rochester, it gives you 15 days to bring the car back, get it legally registered in New York,” McShane explains. The problem is, “they’re just being sold, they’re being reproduced, counterfeited and are being used by people who don’t want to pay for insurance, can’t pay for insurance, have their registration suspended and just a way to get around with their car.”

How does this impact people who are abiding by the rules of the road? “We’ve seen multiple crashes with these plates and the vehicle has no insurance,” McShane explains, “so, your insurance company has to step in and it’s a financial burden for people because then your rates go up because of the claim.”

The DMV says it has ramped up its efforts to crack down on fake plates. During a recent special detail in the Albany area investigators found 120 counterfeit plates in one night, “and over 100, I think it was 101 had no insurance on the vehicle,” McShane recalls. And in the New York City area, “we saw 50 cars in two hours with counterfeit in-transit permits crossing bridges,” meaning, they’re likely not paying tolls either.

The creation of fake license plates is a Class E felony in New York State, which carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Using fake in-transit plates can lead to tickets, fines, suspensions and towed vehicles.

The DMV says it will be continuing enforcement actions across New York State and educating New York State Troopers and local departments about how to tell the difference between real and fake in-transit permits. Many of the fake in-transit permits appear to be issued by the states of New Jersey, Vermont and Texas.