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Potential Victims Will Have to Keep Waiting for ‘Dangerous Vehicle’ Program to Begin

1:36 PM EDT on September 21, 2021

Photo: Liam Quigley

It's a scofflaw paradise.

The city won't start ordering recidivist reckless drivers to take a required safety classes until letters are sent out in "late October/early November," the Department of Transportation told Streetsblog — and recipients of the letters will have another 45 days to complete the still-to-be established course before the agency turns their case back to an administrative court for possible seizure of their car.

The news comes amid the fallout from the city's mishandling of the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, which became city law in early 2020, but was not funded by the de Blasio administration during the Covid-19 pandemic. Money was restored to the budget in 2021, but the damage was done: at least 2,000 drivers have already met the threshold for requiring the safety course, having been caught by city speed cameras 15 times or on red-light cameras five times in any 12-month period.

All remain on the road to this day.

Well, all except Tyrik Mott, who had racked up 91 camera-issued tickets since 2017, including 36 speed-camera and eight red-light tickets since Oct. 26, 2020, when the camera tickets started counting against the 15-or-5 rule. Mott was finally removed from the roads not because of any city action, but because he crashed his car on Sept. 11, killing a 3-month-old baby and injuring three others, cops said.

Even without properly implementing the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, the de Blasio administration had another option for keeping New Yorkers safe from Mott: his car had racked up more than $2,000 in unpaid parking tickets — more than five times the threshold for being towed away — plus another $4,000 in tickets that had been issued on his Pennsylvania-plated car, but not yet adjudicated.

Yet Mott's car was never towed or booted because the de Blasio administration eliminated towing early in the pandemic, and only restarted it in June to catch some moving violation scofflaws, according to a towing industry insider.

The Department of Finance has not responded to repeated requests from Streetsblog for information regarding why Mott's car was never towed, despite a huge tranche of unpaid tickets and moving violations. The agency has also refused to discuss a high-profile crackdown on scofflaws' vehicles in three Brooklyn precincts that was allegedly ordered up after the road death of 3-month-old Apolline Mong-Guillemin.

The current delay in implementing the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement law stems from the failure of the city to find an outside contractor to run the program, which consists of mailing letters to scofflaws who hit the 15-or-5 threshold and then setting up safe-driving courses modeled on the restorative justice approach at the Red Hook Community Justice Center. Such courses have shown success in reforming reckless drivers by humanizing their victims.

Back in March, the city issued a request for proposals from would-be course operators, and selected the Center for Court Innovation to implement the program. But some time between April and Baby Apolline's death on Sept. 11, the city broke off negotiations with the Center for Court Innovation, though DOT spokeswoman Alana Morales declined to offer specifics. For now, at least, the DOT will run the program in-house, as Streetsblog reported last week.

"We did select a vendor through the Request for Expressions of Interest process — Center for Court Innovation — but could not come to a mutual agreement," Morales said. "We moved the program in-house to ensure that issues relating to the vendor would not delay the program beyond the original [fall] timeline as promised [by DOT] Commissioner [Hank Gutman] ... earlier this spring." (Until then, not much is expected to happen, as camera-issued tickets do not count as points against a driver's record, even though just three camera-issued speeding tickets are equivalent to enough points to earn a driver a license suspension, according to the state DMV.)

Once the program kicks in, its safety course classrooms could be full all day all night; as Streetsblog reported earlier this month, more than 1,000 drivers (table below) have accumulated at least 27 speed-camera tickets since Jan. 1, 2021 (meaning that many more have accumulated 15 or more since Oct. 26, 2020, when camera tickets began counting towards the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Act threshold):

Let's meet the worst 10 speeders in the city (none of the cars below has been listed as towed away by the city, by the way):

  • HXV6606 (148 speed camera tickets this year): A gray Chevy (with a Pennsylvania plate). This driver tends to get his or her tickets heading southbound on Springfield Boulevard at 115th Road in Queens. He or she often gets multiple speeding tickets per day — and on Aug. 30 got a whopping six! This person owes $10,556 in tickets — more than 30 times the threshold for being towed.
  • KGC8719 (142 speeding tickets, plus 14 red-light tickets, this year): The driver of this gray Mercedes gets his or her tickets all over the city, but mostly in central Brooklyn (look out, Kings Highway pedestrians!). This driver received eight speed camera violations on July 23, all in Brooklyn. This driver owes $3,8515 in back tickets.
  • KKG1882 (109 speeding tickets, plus seven red light tickets, this year): City records don't list the make of this scofflaw's car, but he or she has racked up a murder of speed-camera tickets in central Brooklyn. May 26 was a memorable day for this driver: in one 24-hour period, he or she got a speeding ticket, a red-light ticket and a ticket for blocking a bus lane on Rogers Avenue — the Gordie Howe hat trick. This driver owes $16,255 in tickets — or 46 times the threshold for towing.
  • KHL6530 (107 speeding tickets, plus two red-light tickets this year): This gray BMW mostly terrorizes the streets of central Brooklyn, though its owner has been known to speed in Queens (mostly on Hoyt Avenue South at 24th Street) and Manhattan. Something happened to this car in August, however, when it started receiving lots of parking tickets in The Bronx, some coded as "plate and sticker don't match." This person still owes $15,728.20 in tickets — or 44 times the threshold for towing.
  • JKJD21 (99 speeding tickets this year): If the owner of this black Mazda SUV really lives in Florida — where his or her plates come from — we've got a bridge to sell you. According to city records, this driver gets a lot of speeding tickets in Canarsie and Flatlands, often three or four a day. Thank heaven for small favors: No red-light tickets.
  • JLG8932 (96 speeding tickets, plus three red-light tickets this year): The driver of this white Honda SUV mostly offends in central Brooklyn, but also in Queens along Woodhaven Boulevard, typically getting a speeding ticket every day. But on June 23, he or she went crazy, getting six: Three in Brooklyn and three in Queens. This driver owes $7,979 in parking tickets.
  • JMN4475 (95 speeding tickets, plus two red-light tickets this year): You'll find this black Honda four-door sedan mostly in Queens and central Brooklyn. Fun fact: This car has not been nabbed by city cameras since a June 2 parking summons for "Front or Back Plate Missing." Coincidence? This driver owes $7,168.05 in tickets.
  • LNJ4455 (92 speeding tickets, plus five red-light tickets this year): This gray Infiniti four-door sedan has Pennsylvania plates, but all of its speed-camera tickets are from Eastern Queens or Brooklyn. There may be some good news about this driver — the car has not been spotted on camera since it tripped a speed camera on Baisley Boulevard and 160th Street on May 14. This supposed Keystone State resident owes $8,224.05 in tickets.
  • PGBT92: (91 speeding tickets, plus nine red-light tickets this year): This car — a black Chevy SUV — has Florida plates, but the driving record shows scores of tickets from racing down Ocean Parkway in Midwood, Kensington and Coney Island. This supposed Sunshine State resident owes $14,872.21 in tickets — and could have been towed 42 times over!
  • KDV5561: (89 speeding tickets, plus three red light tickets this year): This black BMW sedan is mostly ruining the lives of residents along Merrick Boulevard in Queens. The driver also likes to speed along Springfield Boulevard and Hollis Court Boulevard. The driver owes $5,476.59 in tickets.

Don't be surprised by the presence of so many out-of-state cars. A Streetsblog analysis this week showed that non-New York-plated vehicles are involved in a higher-than-expected portion of fatal crashes.

Another more than 1,000 drivers have reached the five red-light ticket standard in 2021 alone (meaning, again, that many more than 1,000 drivers have reached that threshold since Oct. 26):

A towing industry source said that city officials have been slow to restart the effort to tow away bad drivers. As a result, many very bad drivers are simply not being inhibited from driving.

"People who get a lot of parking tickets also tend to get a lot of moving violations," the source said. "We are talking about people who have no respect for the rules."

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