Officials Nationwide Aren’t Effectively Combatting Sale And Use Of Illicit License Tags

Streetsblog NYC and New Jersey Monitor collaborated on a comprehensive three-part investigative series exploring the black market in fraudulent temporary license tags, with an emphasis on the illicit trade’s economic and public safety impacts in New York City. The series probably won’t get the attention it deserves, if the general, lackluster response to the problem by various state’s officials is anything to go by. (Note how many of reporter Jesse Coburn’s requests for agency  information or official comment were ignored or declined.) Part 1 of the series focuses on the dealers in illegal licenses; Part 2 exposes “the network of warehouses and office buildings across Georgia and New Jersey” from which “enigmatic used car dealers” who sell temporary tags operate; Part 3, a roundup, looks at the buyers, how and why they use illegal licenses, and what New York City has done to combat its “ghost tag” problem. As if many millions in annual bridge and tunnel toll revenue losses were not enough to justify more nationwide action, the series reveals that the vehicle license black market has significant public safety and economic implications that lawmakers shouldn’t be neglecting.

Yesterday, The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board called for more law enforcement, regulatory and legislative attention to the proliferation of “fake, obscured, or missing license plates” and the illegal conduct that their use conceals. “Local and state officials need a comprehensive strategy to end this trend and ensure public safety on multiple fronts,” the editors argued, citing specific common-sense measures that would curtail the distribution and use of illegal tags.