Carpetbagging Drivers Head to North Carolina for Plates

On his frequent runs and bike rides around his Jackson Heights neighborhood and nearby Corona and Elmhurst, Will Sweeney recently started noticing something strange: a lot of license plates from North Carolina. Sweeney writes:

Two weekends ago, I decided to take an informal and unscientific survey of license plates in these three neighborhoods. I found that after New York, the most common plates are North Carolina or Pennsylvania. I considered that PA was relatively close and that possibly motorists were just visiting for a few days. But North Carolina is a long haul from NYC. Last Friday, I did the experiment again. This time I counted. 192 NC plates, 97 PA plates, 43 NJ plates, 21 Ohio plates, 12 CT plates and a few other random states in the single digits.

A little more research confirmed Sweeney’s suspicion that all those cars didn’t belong to tourists from Greensboro and Fayetteville.
Turns out that so many drivers from our area are going down south to fraudulently obtain North Carolina plates that legislators in that state have introduced legislation to make the practice a felony. Reports Raleigh TV station WRAL:

State Insurance Commissioner Jim Long said motorists flock to North
Carolina from expensive insurance states, such as New Jersey and New
York. They give fake local addresses and get cheaper insurance and tags.

"They’re coming down here literally by the bus load," Long said….

Investigators want the state Division of Motor Vehicles and insurance agents to improve how they verify where people live.

goal in all this is to protect the rates being charged to North
Carolina drivers by keeping those from other states from buying
insurance down here, then going back up north and having wrecks and
costing all of us," Long said.

Sweeney notes that better enforcement in North Carolina would have a beneficial effect on New Yorkers as well. "A very effective way to re-claim our streets from cars is to make sure that all illegal cars are off the streets," he writes. "I think that if the city and state enforced the insurance and registration laws of the city, we could tremendously decrease the number of vehicles on the streets. And the revenues from fines and traffic tickets would actually be paid!" 

  • Rober

    We should have NYC Parking permits. Inexpensive for residents, $100 per year. Expensive for non-residents, $10/day. This would reduce the incentive for registration fraud and go a long way to prevent the presumed parking issues related to congestion pricing.

  • Emily

    Illegal registration endangers the safety and welfare of all New Yorkers. NYC taxpapers and insurance policyholders are absorbing the financial burden of these fraudulent motorists. NYPD should release its statistics on traffic/parking violations by out-of-state motorists. I’ll bet the house that it is huge!

  • ed

    Rober’s idea is good. Also note that this could even benefit law-abiding NY drivers, as their rates might go down once the pool of insured drivers was expanded and the risk of fraud was reduced. Everybody wins!

  • momos

    Just yesterday at the gym I overheard two guys discussing how one was in the process of buying a new car. They complained about the high cost of insurance, and the guy said he was going to take it down to “the NRC.”

    I wonder what percentage of New York car owners do this. I bet it’s much higher than we think.

  • Steve

    Here are some examples of NC registered vehicles that are probably engaged in the fraudulent practice described in the post:

    This guy with NC plates is parked every morning on West 77th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam in front of the school, reading the paper, opposite the bike lane. He forces all the traffic into the bike lane. He moves every time we ask him, but I am getting a little sick of asking:

  • Spud Spudly

    This is news? To whom?

    Here’s some actual news to all those people illegally insuring cars out-of-state: If you make a claim your insurance company won’t pay.

  • Hannah

    I used to work with a woman whose recent husband, an immigrant from Mexico, could not get a driver’s license in New York state but could get one in North (South?) Carolina due to differences in immigration rules or the documentation they required. So he got a license down south. I’m not sure where they registered their car, but I could see how it would seem logical to register a car in NC in this situation.

    Immigration policy is not something I usually think of as being related to driving, but there is a connection.

  • lee

    couldnt one be prosecuted for insurance fraud?

    I think DMV should coordinate a crackdown on out of state plates.

  • v

    shucks. and here i thought some friendly southern folks might be replacing all these grumpy nyc drivers.

    right on spud spudly. no need for more cops when time will do the job.

  • Steve

    V, no reason to think time will do the job. Those engaged in this scam who do not make claims (the majority) will not stop. Those who make claims (the minority) are probably stupid enought to continue with the scam in order to recoup their losses. And there will always be new entrants to replace those who leave.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    Better, how about the dollar vans running Flatbush Avenue with Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina plates, picking up fares and adding to the general traffic chaos? In this sense automobile Federalism has a similar effect as the gun laws, lax regulation in Mayberry has a diseconomy for Gotham.

  • I noticed in the article on congestion pricing in Sweden that foreigh (non-Swedish) vehicles were exempt and wondered if this was because it was unenforceable. I wonder how fees will be collected from out-of-state vehicles, not to mention diplomats… I think it would be safe to assume there will be the same non-compliance rate as with parking tickets.

  • v

    yup, steve, point taken. i agree that if you get pulled over or your in an accident, the plates should get checked. maybe i get a little jumpy when i think about an out-of-state plate being used to pull [some, not other] people over? unless being from out of state is a crime, in which case i have a solution to the housing crunch.

    better than parking permits and enforcement and other bureaucracy, how about getting rid of most on-street parking and meter the rest? the cost of putting it in a garage is considerable and always market-rate, and we might actually free up space for people. if it’s annoying enough, people will have to give up their cars anyway.

  • Will

    I agree with v. We need to charge for on-street parking. The time for residential parking permits has come!!!

  • Felix

    So, whose going to set up a “rat on your neighbor” website for registration fraud. These people are a menace if they’re driving around essentially uninsured.

  • Steve

    I don’t like the idea of pulling over people based on out of state plates. But when it comes to parking with a placard indicating NYC employment, out of state plates should raise eyebrows. Folks with NC, Alabama, and Pennsylvania plates park illegally on the UWS based on fraudulent post service placards indicating that they work at Planetarium Station. They don’t even get ticketed, much less prosecuted for insurance or other fraud:

    I guess as federal employees they really know how to play the “federal system.”

  • galvo

    insurance companies will not pay out when they find out the driver lives in ny. the victim of the collision is the one who gets screwed as they have to deal with uninsured motorist coverage. peds and bicyclist fare the worse since there injuries may y go over the uninsured liability medical limit of 50,000.
    motorcycle operators and passengers are really screwed, they don’t have the no fault coverage.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    In 2000 I owned an SUV registered and insured in North Carolina. It cost me $75 to insure it for six months.

    The difference between me and these frauds is that I actually lived in North Carolina at the time. I only drove it in NYC for one day.

  • Spud Spudly

    $75 for six months? Wow. Did you have the most basic insurance or something extra? I pay just under $1000/year to insure a three year old Camry that’s garaged 24-hours-a-day in my building in Manhattan and which I only drive 4000 miles/year for leisure purposes. So you can see that the incentive for fraud is high.

    Think about this — is there really any incentive for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone they know is committing this type of fraud? Take their money and if they ever make a claim you deny it and cancel their policy. The policy holder can’t complain because he’s committing insurance fraud.

    I’m sure it’s illegal, but it’s something to ponder…

  • Mr Reality

    The reason why the City won’t touch it is very simple. Take a good look at where these out of state plates are being found… They are being found in areas with large minority concentrations. Sorry all you poor bleeding heart liberals out there, but thats the reality. Take a drive by your local housing project… There you’ll see “My baby’s daddy” driving with illegal out of state plates…In Elmhurst…Mr “Ali Babagonush” driving with illegal out of state plates…In Corona…Mr “Juan de Jesus, Santa Maria-Portilla” driving with illegal out of state plates. It’s total BS. And of course….NYPD is told to “leave it alone”. Of course… We might “offend” some minority electoral base. God forbid that happened…

  • I think you’re probably right, “Mr. Reality.” Too bad you couldn’t have said it without invoking nasty stereotypes.

  • Henry_calde1991

    my father has never been in an accident in over 20 yrs. he brougt a 2002 mercury mointaineer back in 2003 with the same NY plates. he pays 315 every 2 months for insurance..whats wrong in the picture there


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