ALBANY, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles have been working alongside many law enforcement agencies, including the Utica Police Department, to crack down on the use of fake license plates.

Drivers may use fake license plates to avoid tolls, vehicle registration fees, evade speed cameras and avoid detection from law enforcement.

“The Utica Police Department has been very fortunate to work with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles in an effort to combat and educate the public about the increase in fraudulent license plates.  These types of plates have become prevalent over the last several years, and with that comes a host of other public safety issues,” Utica Police Chief Mark Williams said in a statement. “Through our partnership, we found that vehicles operating with these plates, along with being not registered, are more often than not uninsured and have operators who are also unlicensed.  These factors pose a safety risk to other motorists and our city streets.  We look forward to continuing our strong joint efforts with the NYS DMV to combat the rise and use of these illegal tags and keeping other motorists safe on the roads.”

The creation of false license plates is a Class E felony in New York State. The maximum penalty for such a crime – or being in possession of the machines to make such plates – is four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 or double the gain obtained, according to New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.

During the enforcement campaign, investigators with the DMV — as well as the New York State Police and Albany County Sheriff, along with several others – have seen a surge in citations for fake license plates. Since January, the campaign has resulted in 420 citations, including 92 plate violations. 36 vehicles have been towed as a result, as well as 26 plates seized from the crackdown.

“When someone uses a fake license plate, that means hardworking taxpayers and motorists are footing the bill for someone trying to cheat the system,” DMV Commissioner and Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Chair Mark Schroeder said in a statement. “Drivers should know that our investigators are out there working closely with other law enforcement agencies to target this issue and those who break the law can expect to be caught.”