NY Police Arrest Cyclist For Removing Cover From Illegally Obscured License Plate


A New York cyclist got in trouble after removing a piece of plastic from an illegally obscured license plate of a Chevrolet Suburban in Brooklyn. He was arrested by NYPD officers after being charged with 4th-degree criminal mischief for allegedly damaging the plate. Notably, the SUV driver who was inside the vehicle during the incident and called the police didn’t get a summons for obscuring his license plates.

The bike commuter is Adam White, a 58-year-old lawyer and safe streets advocate who shared the story on social media. His Twitter profile is full of photos showing cases of illegally obscured license plates. This practice appears to be increasingly common among New York drivers, allowing them to escape red light cameras and other traffic violations by partially or fully obscuring their car’s license plate numbers.

The latest example was a black Chevrolet Suburban, allegedly owned by a city employee. The cyclist pulled over and decided to remove the plastic cover, but he didn’t notice that the driver of the SUV was still in the vehicle due to the heavily tinted windows. As reported by HellGateNYC, the 44-year-old driver stepped out of the vehicle and called the police, allegedly wrongfully accusing the cyclist of causing damage to the plate. The NYPD arrived on the scene and arrested White, leaving the driver without a summons.

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As reported by Jalopnik, the cyclist described the police officers as “calm and very polite”. They prompted him to call 911 or 311 instead of acting on his own. White said he has called numerous times to file a complaint but nothing happened. He asked the officers why they didn’t cite the driver for the illegal practice, for them to reply they “hadn’t observed anything amiss” despite being shown photos of the covered plate.

The cyclist spent 5 hours in a jail cell before being released with a court date for December 1st. He will face charges for 4th-degree criminal mischief which translates to “recklessly damaging property over $250”. According to White, there wasn’t any damage caused to the plastic license plate cover which means he may win the legal fight.

A quick search in public records reveals that this particular Chevrolet Suburban had as many as 26 traffic violations in three years’ time. It seems that the driver thought of a not-so-legal way of avoiding tickets in the future instead of changing his driving habits to comply with the law.

According to the HellGateNYC, drivers with obscured plates didn’t pay $144 million worth of tolls to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last year, while at least nine traffic fatalities were reported involving those “ghost cars”. In the first half of 2022, the NYPD issued more than 13,000 summonses to cars with illegally obscured plates.


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