Law enforcement ghost car crackdowns continue with dozens of vehicles seized on Whitestone Bridge: MTA

Law enforcement agencies impounded 55 vehicles at the Whitestone Bridge on Monday and arrested 13 people while writing more than 400 summonses.
Photo courtesy of the MTA

MTA Bridge and Tunnel officers, the NYPD and law enforcement partners impounded 55 vehicles from motorists crossing into Queens on the Whitestone Bridge on Monday, July 8, as a multi-agency crackdown continued unabated.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday that through 25 joint enforcement operations focusing on ghost plates and persistent toll violators on bridges and tunnels throughout New York City, 1,540 vehicles have been impounded, 339 arrests have been made and 12,007 summonses have been issued so far this year to drivers who owe more than $12.5 million in unpaid tolls and fees.

Photo courtesy of the MTA

“Ghost plates and toll evasion cost our state millions each year and impede our efforts to build a mass transit system that benefits everyone,” Hochul said. “Our heightened enforcement efforts are cracking down on the brazen lawlessness that has gone unchecked for too long, and our message is clear: enough is enough.”

Photo courtesy of the MTA

In addition to the 55 vehicles that were impounded at the Whitestone Bridge on Monday, the operation resulted in 13 arrests and 433 summonses issued to scofflaws who had amassed more than $480,000 in unpaid tolls.

Photo courtesy of the MTA

“Toll-dodging drivers cost the MTA millions of dollars every year,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said. “That’s the public’s money — money that could be reinvested into modernizing our transit system. This is about fairness. Do be warned: if you cover your license plate or use fake plates, you will pay the price.”

Photo courtesy of the MTA

The crackdowns are leading to some significant arrests. During an operation at the Triboro Bridge on June 24, MTA Bridge and Tunnel officers observed a motorist who had intentionally obstructed and concealed part of a license plate and a subsequent investigation determined the driver had a suspended license, was wanted for several crimes and officers found a large quantity of narcotics and a loaded firearm in the vehicle.

Photo courtesy of the MTA

“Since our joint task force operations began four months ago, we have ticketed or arrested more than 12,000 violators and impounded over 1,500 vehicles owing millions of dollars in unpaid tolls, fees and judgments,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said. “While there is still a clear connection between some illegal and violence and disorder in New York City, overall crime this year is down 2%, including a 10% drop in stolen vehicles.”

During an operation at the Queens Midtown Tunnel last month, NYPD officers stopped a moped rider for a vehicle traffic law offense and an initial investigation revealed the operator had a suspended license and after further inspection, officers discovered the operator also had a substantial quantity of crack cocaine. During a background check, officers discovered the individual in a person of interest for a shooting in Brooklyn in 2022.

“This ongoing NYPD-led effort to hold motorists accountable and seize illegal, unregistered multi-agency partnership that is making our city better and safer for all,” Caban said. “And we will not take our foot off the gas until every driver understands that lawlessness is simply not tolerated here.”

Port Authority Police Superintendent Edward Cetnar added that drivers looking to cheat their way out of paying what they owe on bridges and tunnels have proven to be no match for the unified strength of the region’s law enforcement.

“This powerful partnership has sent a clear message to those who think they can deceive us with ghost cars, defaced plates and delinquent bills,” he said. “We are vigilant, we are prepared and, like thousands before you, we will hold you accountable for breaking the law.”