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Dangerous Vehicle Seizure Program’s Future Uncertain as City Fails to Release Required Report

The Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program requires motorists who repeatedly speed or break red lights to take a safe driving course, or else have their cars impounded.

Carnage on Bay Parkway. File Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The Adams administration blew past its legally-mandated Aug. 1 deadline to report on a city program that makes reckless drivers either take a safety course or lose their car — and the delays risk efforts to make city streets safer, said the city’s Comptroller Brad Lander, who pushed to enact the effort years ago.

The Department of Transportation was supposed to file a review of the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, or DVAP, earlier this week, and report on the 2020 pilot project, which requires motorists who repeatedly speed or break red lights to take a safe driving course or have their cars impounded — but the temporary initiative has led to barely more than a dozen vehicles seized and is set to expire at the end of October. 

Dangerous driving soared during the pandemic, and Lander, who sponsored the law for DVAP while he was still a council member, said the setback signaled that the agency and the administration were not serious about holding dangerous motorists accountable. 

“Tens of thousands of drivers on New York City streets accumulate dozens of speeding and red-light violations, but only a fraction will ever face consequences beyond a fine,” the comptroller said in a statement to Streetsblog.

“Between the few people who complete the safe driving course and the almost non-existent enforcement against recidivist drivers, DOT essentially green lights reckless driving.”

DVAP requires owners of vehicles with more than five red light camera violations or more than 15 speeding tickets within a year to take a safe driving course. If they fail to complete the course, their vehicle could be impounded.

However, thousands of drivers have been able to skirt the exam, the Post previously revealed.

Since the program’s launch in October 2020, DOT has “engaged” more than 2,100 vehicle owners, nearly 1,200 of whom have taken the safety class, according to agency rep Mona Bruno. The city seized just 16 vehicles over those almost three years, according to the Department of Finance — fewer than one every two months and just four since late last year.

legally-required update from DOT last year said that through Nov. 28, only 630 people finished the course.

The city gives drivers a whopping 90 days to take the course after the first notification goes out in the mail, or go to court at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, and only after an adjudication by OATH the Sheriff may impound the vehicle.

Drivers get their cars back after taking the course and paying any outstanding fines set by an OATH judge.

The law requires DOT to have issued a longer follow-up review of its program by now — to take stock of how effective the safe driving course has been in reducing recidivism, uncover any patterns behind the carnage on the roads, clock how many bad drivers faced criminal convictions, and evaluate additional interventions the city could do to address the crisis in the streets. 

“We are finalizing the evaluation report for the program in collaboration with our agency partners and plan to release it soon,” Bruno said. 

Whether these courses actually work to keep dangerous drivers off the road is key. At least one recidivist reckless driver who underwent a similar program, Tyrik Mott, apparently learned nothing — and later killed 3-month-old baby Apolline Mong-Guillemin in a 2021 crash in Clinton Hill.

The much-awaited analysis would also provide information to the Council, which will be responsible for renewing or tweaking the program, according to Lander. 

“Every day that DOT delays its evaluation of the program translates to less time for street safety advocates and the City Council to learn the lessons of DVAP and fine-tune solutions to the enduring problem of reckless driving in New York City,” the comptroller said. 

DVAP was plagued with delays from the start, in part induced by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic weeks after it passed in the Council. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t properly fund it until a year later, and DOT struggled to set up a contractor, before moving it in-house.

DOT has a history of missed reporting deadlines and milestones.

The agency fell short of legal benchmarks for new miles of bike and bus lanes under the Streets Master Plan last year, and also didn’t release its first progress update on that five-year plan in time either.

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