Counterfeit Tags Are Growing Problem Across The Nation
WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 5, 2023 — The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime, is pushing the Washington, D.C. City Council to approve legislation that would provide law enforcement agencies with additional tools to combat counterfeit vehicle tags in the District of Columbia. The use of fraudulent tags has become common for criminals looking to mask their identities, making it difficult for law enforcement to track down getaway cars, hindering law enforcement’s ability to identify suspects, and enabling drivers to plot easier escapes and evade tollways. The Washington, D.C. City Council held a hearing this week focused on the Fraudulent Vehicle Tag Enforcement Amendment Act of 2023, which would address this growing problem.
“The use of fraudulent, temporary vehicle identification tags continues to be a widespread problem in the District and across the country,” said Eric De Campos, Director of Strategy, Policy and Government Affairs for the National Insurance Crime Bureau. “Criminals are using long-expired or outright counterfeited tags to create ‘ghost cars,’ which are then used to facilitate other violent crimes such as shootings and carjackings, both within the District and in surrounding jurisdictions. This legislation will help deter bad actors and criminal organizations and help law enforcement investigate individuals who knowingly produce and distribute fraudulent tags.”
The legislation is sponsored by D.C. Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau and would give law enforcement agencies in the District of Columbia the authority to immediately tow and impound cars whose owners have broken the law by having counterfeit, obscured, or expired vehicle plates. The legislation would also allow the Washington, D.C. government to establish a directory for issued temporary tags, empowering authorities to proactively investigate and shut down dealers and distributors of falsified and counterfeit temporary tags.
After introducing the bill, Councilmember Nadeau noted the importance of addressing the proliferation of long-expired and counterfeit temporary vehicle tags, especially vehicles with plates that are intentionally obscured to avoid automated enforcement. “We can’t continue to allow car owners to buy untraceable tags or allow their tags to stay expired for months or years to evade accountability. Unfortunately, experience has shown that premeditated reckless driving is often associated with vehicles that have these kinds of tags,” said Councilmember Nadeau.
A task force convened last year by Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C. determined that "fraudulent or counterfeit vehicle identification tags have been found to be involved in the commission of violent crimes, reckless driving, and the evasion of the District’s traffic laws and regulations, thus, in turn, posing a substantial risk to public safety and the health and welfare of District residents and visitors.”
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