311 Launches Portal to Report Obscured License Plates

Photo Credit: @placardabuse on Twitter

By Iryna Shkurhanishkurhan@queensledger.com 

New Yorkers can now report delinquent drivers for obscuring their license plates through a simple 311 online portal. 

More and more drivers are modifying their license plates with a variety of tactics to avoid getting flagged by speeding cameras or paying tolls across the city. Some evasive drivers purchase a transparent cover on Amazon for less than $20 that reflects the camera’s flash to prevent recognition. While others resort to bending their plates, scratching off segments, spraying chemicals or even using temporary paper plates illegally. 

The new measure was unveiled following Councilmember Robert Holden’s letter to NYC’s Chief Technology Officer, Matthew Frasier, urging him to take action against the issue. Frasier coordinates tech related projects across the city in an effort to democratize technology.

Screenshot from the new 311 portal.

Previously CM Holden, who sits on the Committee of Transportation, sponsored a bill to prohibit the sale or distribution of materials that obscure or distort plates. Enacted by the council this past January, the first penalty for violations is $300 while subsequent ones would amount to $500. 

“The financial implications of this problem are significant as well. The State is losing considerable money on tolls due to obscured license plates, and the city is losing revenue from red light and speed cameras,” penned Holden to Frasier in a letter dated February 23, 2023. “In addition to the financial impact, the safety of our citizens is at risk. Using obscured license plates makes identifying and prosecuting individuals who commit crimes challenging.”

A report from THE CITY found that drivers modifying their plates to evade personal costs has cost the city up to $75 million in possible fines for license plates that were damaged, missing or obscured. Since the pandemic, the problem has only gotten worse with a significant rise in speed cameras unable to read license plates due to obstruction.  

In addition to lost funding, safety advocates say that these tactics embolden more reckless driving and that can put others on the road at risk. Others believe that drivers may be resorting to these measures due to a higher cost of living, especially with car related expenses, and are feeling pinched by the associated costs of gas, tolls and parking. 

Data obtained by THE CITY showed that from January 2016 to March 2020, approximately one percent of camera enforcement infractions showed up unreadable. But in December 2021, the number of vehicles that could not be ticketed jumped to four percent indicating a rise in plate obstruction. 

New York State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law states, “Number plates shall be kept clean and in a condition so as to be easily readable and shall not be covered by glass or any plastic material or substance that conceals or obscures such number plates or that distorts a recorded or photographic image of such number plates.” A violation can result in a fine ranging from $50 to $300.

Congresswoman Grace Meng recently shared that she was impacted by this tactic when a speeding car with modified characters was caught by a camera in Howard Beach and appeared to match her license plate.

“Nice try. This ain’t my car and the license plate clearly shows someone altered with the plate’s characters. See you in traffic court!” wrote Meng on her campaign Twitter account alongside pictures of the speeding violation ticket she received in the mail.

“We must prioritize tackling the persistent problem of obscured or tampered license plates,” said Council Member Holden in a press release. “Implementing a streamlined 311 reporting function empowers New Yorkers to swiftly alert law enforcement of such violations through a few simple taps on their smartphones. This responsive approach exemplifies the government’s commitment to addressing the concerns of its citizens.”

Once in the portal, reporters can describe the problem with a maximum of 2000 characters and attach up to three images showing evidence of license plate obstruction. Those reporting can also submit their own contact information to receive updates, but it is not required to identify yourself. 

To report a violation, you can visit the 311 portal

Jackson Heights resident starts fashion company

Peachi app helps users find personal style

By Jessica Meditz


In an age of online shopping, many people find themselves spending more time and money trying to find the look that’s right for them.

In fact, about 30 percent of online shoppers say they purchase clothing items in three different sizes, in the hopes that one fits.

With this knowledge, Justin Ramos, a Queens Village native and Jackson Heights resident, built the fashion company, Peachi.

Justin Ramos, Peachi founder

Peachi is an AI-powered digital dressing room application that’s partnered with 400 brands, allowing users to develop their own personal style.

It’s an interactive platform that offers various features to get to know one’s style, such as styling games, the ability to pin and save items, as well as photographing clothes already owned to determine what to work around.

Ramos, 31, attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he played baseball and football.

He said that while he’s a software engineer by trade, key events earlier in life such as his sports career are what inspired him to develop this app.

“My football coach was really big on the whole idea of ‘look good, feel good, play good.’ When I graduated college, I understood how to do that in the athletic fields, but thought about how that translates to a profession,” Ramos said.

“I said, ‘Let me build something that helps people look and feel great every day, so that they can be their best selves, and just feel confident when they walk outside the house.’ That’s how Peachi was born,” he continued. “I wanted to build a tool that really helps people understand their style and find great pieces for them in a much easier way than currently exists.”

One of Peachi’s most personalized features is its sizing calculator, which uses sizing data from various brands to calculate a user’s size in a different brand.

Because the program is only about six weeks into development, the sizing calculator is currently available for men’s sizing.

Ramos plans to expand the tool to meet women’s needs in the near future.

“We ask you a series of questions, such as what the brand of your favorite shirt is. If someone says they have a shirt from H&M that fits perfectly, or another one from Zara, they’d click on that. Then we ask what size that shirt is,” he explained.

“We’re able to use that information for a bunch of different brands, and figure out what is the best size for you. Then we send an email with brands that we work with, and the sizes you should wear in that brand,” he continued. “So we might say, ‘You said you’re a large at Zara, but you’re actually a medium at H&M. That’s a big problem we found, where sometimes you can be a large in one, but a small in another brand.”

While the brand does not manufacture clothing itself, it is connected with hundreds of big name brands including Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Burberry and Adidas.

Peachi is participating in an accelerator run by Antler, a global venture capital firm with offices worldwide, including in New York.

“Antler has been really helpful. They have this idea called ‘first principles,’ which identifies what must be true in order for this vision of the future to happen. We know that people have issues right now shopping online, so that’s what kind of started us to go down that path of figuring out the problems people have,” Ramos said.

“We’ve been scientists the last six weeks, having hypotheses, asking questions, learning and just doing small experiments on each step,” he continued. “It’s really helpful to have people in your corner who have invested in and built a lot of businesses before, giving you guidance along the way.”

About 1,000 people around the world are currently using Peachi, and Ramos expects that number to grow.

Those interested can visit Peachi’s website, download the app on their mobile device and follow the brand on social media @staypeachi on Twitter and Facebook, and @keepitpeachi on Instagram.

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing