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Friday’s Headlines: Meet the Scofflaws Edition

12:03 AM EST on January 13, 2023

Some of the cars taken off the road because their drivers didn’t pay their tolls. Photo: The great Marc A. Hermann / MTA

Some good news on the scofflaw front yesterday: The MTA seized 21 cars of some serious toll evaders on Wednesday, including one Mazda whose owner owed $57,000 in unpaid tolls and fines from roughly 500 unpaid tolls.

The Post covered it, but we threw a bunch of questions at the MTA, given our interest in rogue drivers who cover their plates. Turns out, plate defacing isn't the issue here; these drivers simply drove through tolls and never paid the toll notices sent to wherever their car is registered (which may connect to our old man editor's new "Where Do My Neighbors Live" insurance fraud series on Twitter).

In fact, when we asked the MTA, the agency explained that when someone has three unpaid tolls in a five-year-period, the MTA asks the DMV to suspend the registration on the car. The next time the driver tries to pass through an MTA toll, cops are alerted and quickly pull over the "unregistered" car, which is then seized (it's unregistered!) and held until the driver pays back all the missing moolah.

None of the drivers whose cars were seized yesterday were arrested, which means they're free to keep driving ... perhaps by simply buying a fake paper plate from a rogue dealer (like the one Vice News recently profiled). Which raises the question: Why not jail for recidivist reckless drivers who terrorize our streets? And if the DMV can suspend the registration of a car that hasn't paid just three tolls in five years, why can't we do something about hit-and-run drivers with 71 camera-issued speeding tickets in the last 12 months (oh, by the way, the NYPD told Streetsblog that he hasn't been caught yet)?

In other news:

    • And speaking of scofflaws, our criminal mischief-committing editor was featured on the British podcast, Road.cc.
    • The Post, amNY, Gothamist (twice) and the Times offered an overview of the mayor's preliminary budget without a single word about transportation or transit. We filled in one gap here.
    • The City looked at the NYPD's terrible record on overtime.
    • Uber and Lyft drivers say they can't make ends meet, presaging an inevitable attack on congestion pricing. (NY Times)
    • The Times did what it considers a nice obituary on Norman Fruchter, but, as is often the case with the paper, ignored, and even downplayed, the cause of his, and his first wife's, death: "His death, at a hospital, was caused by complications of injuries sustained when he was struck by a car on Dec. 22 while crossing the street near his home in the Bay Ridge section of the borough." And, "His first wife, Rachel Gillett Fruchter, a biochemist, was killed in an accident [sic] in 1997 when a van [sic] struck her bicycle." The paper clearly didn't think much of a family destroyed by the killings of both parents, 25 years apart, in similar instances of reckless driving. We beg to differ.
    • Finally, don't forget it's Friday the 13th, people.

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