Vehicle seizures as well as multiple arrests and summonses have...

Vehicle seizures as well as multiple arrests and summonses have been the result of an ongoing joint task force targeting bridge and tunnel toll violators, with 19 more arrests and 100 summonses issued last week. Credit: MTA/Marc A. Hermann

Officers with the MTA, NYPD and several other law enforcement agencies made 19 arrests, seized 57 vehicles and issued 100 summonses Wednesday as part of an ongoing task force set up to crack down on “ghost plates” and persistent toll violators, authorities said Sunday.

The 11th joint enforcement operation seized vehicles for several violations including unpaid tolls, unregistered vehicles and suspended licenses, among other traffic infractions. Officers screened vehicles at the Bayonne Bridge, the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, the Goethals Bridge and the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Bridge.

The persistent toll evaders amassed close to $302,000 in unpaid tolls and fees, judgments and debts, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“These joint operations are demonstrating that the partner agencies have no tolerance for those who would willfully obstruct or obscure their license plates in order to hide their identity,” said MTA Bridges and Tunnels president Catherine Sheridan in a statement Sunday, referring to the so-called "ghost plates." 

“We are identifying violators, stopping them, and clearly delivering that message with tow trucks, summonses and where necessary, handcuffs.”

Other agencies involved in the operation included the New York State Police, the Port Authority Police Department, the New York City Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission Police and the MTA Police Department Highway Patrol.

The MTA did not immediately say what led to the 19 arrests. Since the task force launched its first operation in March, officers have now made 161 arrests, including for outstanding robbery and forgery warrants. Other drivers were stopped for violations including driving with covered or obstructed license plates, unpaid tolls, driving unregistered vehicles and driving with a suspended license.

Officers have seized 675 vehicles and have issued 4,771 summonses since March, the MTA said.

“The Port Authority, alongside our partners in this multi-agency task force, remains firm that toll cheats won't fly,” Port Authority police Superintendent Edward Cetnar said Sunday in a statement. “For those who still haven't gotten the message: Our patrols are constant, and our vigilance is unwavering against drivers who think they can cheat the system with defaced or fraudulent license plates. It's not a matter of if, but when they'll be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Officials seized 2,731 vehicles in 2023, up 47% from 2022. A study by Newsday found drivers concealed, obstructed or used bogus license plates to dodge an average of 224,000 tolls a month last year at MTA bridges and tunnels. In a previous Newsday story, the MTA said plate cheaters cost the authority about $46 million in toll revenue in 2022.

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