MTA Police Seize 63 Cars of Toll-Evaders
By Yehudit Garmaise
Using evidence from the cameras that photograph the license plates of the drivers who do not bother to fill up EZpasses before cruising through the city’s seven bridges and two tunnels, MTA officers cracked down on the lawbreakers on April 11 at the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge and on April 6 at the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.
In all, the 63 persistent toll violators collectively owed $1.5 million in unpaid tolls and fees, reported the MTA, which said that after getting a car seized some toll violators may be on the hook for up to $50,000 in unpaid tolls and fees.
The NY Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Suspension Registration Program, which has helped the MTA to recover more than 90% of the tens of millions of dollars in unpaid tolls, the agency allows MTA officers to suspend the registration of cars whose owners have received three or more violations for failing to pay tolls or a violation for an amount of more than $200 within a five-year period.
To identify drivers who continue to evade tolls, while crossing bridges and tunnels with suspended registrations, the MTA uses specialized license plate readers.
Many drivers whose cars were seized in recent weeks used license plates with illegal plate frames, plates with the numbers and letters scratched out, or no plates at all.
One driver of a Mercedes-Benz SUV who was arrested on Tuesday on the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge was caught using allegedly fake Georgia license plates.
Such fake license plates, or other false license plates that sometimes use technology to rotate or otherwise block or obscure their numbers to attempt to avoid the MTA’s detection are called “ghost cars,” which are often among the approximately 9,000 cars each day whose drivers do not pay tolls, FoxNews reported.
After MTA police arrested the driver of the Mercedes SUV and took him into custody on multiple charges, including a felony for forgery, law enforcement sources said that the NY legislature should pass tougher laws and more serious consequences for people who repeatedly fail to pay their tolls.
photo credit: Flickr