Arrest of serial toll evader highlights violations costing Port Authority millions of dollars

Lauren Glassberg Image
Friday, January 26, 2024
Driver charged after using elaborate license plate cover to evade tolls
Lauren Glassberg has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Toll evaders are costing the Port Authority millions of dollars in lost revenue, and one particular toll cheat, who was caught last week, racked up close to 300 violations.

An illegal license plate that disappears on command looks like something out of a James Bond movie. It's what helped the driver of a BMW avoid paying the toll 292 times at the George Washington Bridge and other Port Authority crossings.

"Basically, it's automated from the inside of the car, so you push a button and it slides down and covers the license plate," said Robin Bramwell-Steward, Port Authority Deputy Director of Toll Operations.

The driver in this case owes the Port Authority $19,767, including nearly $5,200 in tolls and thousands of dollars in outstanding fees.

Bramwell-Steward oversees tolling operations for the Port Authority which is going after cheats in a big way.

"We are using license plate readers, cameras, observations and tracking data by officers and tracking data and patterns," Bramwell-Steward said.

Port Authority Police issued more than 5,800 summonses last year, a 28% increase from the prior year, and the agency recovered more than $25 million from cheats last year, 14% more than the previous year.

The top 10 violators include a number of trucking companies, including one ordered to pay $201,000. That's money that goes to the upkeep of bridges and tunnels.

"When someone cheats, it impacts how much money we have to put into those facilities and operations," Bramwell-Steward said.

In the case of the BMW, the driver was arrested, and the car was impounded. It's another reason to just pay the toll.


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