City Council Requests Federal Help in Fight Against Black Market for Temporary License Plates, Jesse Coburn, August 4, 2023

The New York City Council is asking the federal government to get in on the fight against temporary license plate fraud, arguing that the illegal out-of-state paper tags inundating city streets require a national solution.

In a letter sent Thursday to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Council Member Oswald Feliz and 32 other city lawmakers called on the federal Department of Transportation to make it harder for people to open sham car dealerships and sell so-called temp tags illegally – a practice that a Streetsblog investigation found to be common. The legislators also called on the federal government to outlaw temp tags that are valid for longer than 30 days.

Illegal paper license plates flow through a vast underground economy, with counterfeiters and unscrupulous car dealers selling them to drivers who use the tags to avoid accountability on the road, Streetsblog found. During the pandemic, some New Yorkers opened bogus car dealerships in states with loose used car industry regulations, such as Texas, Georgia and New Jersey, then sold tags illegally to New Yorkers with no car insurance, unregistered cars or more nefarious reasons for driving with the paper tags.

In the letter, the lawmakers ask the federal government to "ensure only dealerships that actually sell cars are granted the right to issue paper plates." To do so, the Council members suggest mandating that dealerships have "physical space for the sale of cars," and that regulators can inspect those facilities.

But both of those requirements are already in place in states like New Jersey, which nevertheless became a major source of fraudulent temp tags during the pandemic.

And as for long-duration temp tags – the other issue on which the Council requested federal intervention – Streetsblog did not find them to be a major cause of temp tag fraud. Continue full article