NYPD Arrests Cyclist For Uncovering Obscured License Plate, Lets Driver Go

The driver, who racked up more than $2,000 in traffic fines in NYC alone, was not charged with any crime, despite the mayor's vow to crack down on "ghost cars."

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
The illegally obscured license plate
Photo: Adam White/Twitter

In a perfect world, you’d think the NYPD would have it out for drivers who illegally obscure their license plates. After all, New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently called for a crackdown on so-called “ghost cars.” But if you know anything about the NYPD, you won’t be surprised to hear that a cyclist who pulled a piece of plastic off an illegally obscured license plate ended up being arrested, while the offending driver was let go.

Hell Gate reports that cyclist Adam White, who is also a lawyer, saw the piece of plastic covering a letter of the license plate on this Chevy Suburban and pulled it off. Generally speaking, you should leave other people’s cars alone. But when they illegally cover their license plate so they can avoid tolls, evade red-light cameras and speed cameras, and generally put others at risk, we say go for it.


“I do think it’s a very important issue,” White told Hell Gate. “Drivers need to be held accountable.”

One small mistake White made, though, is that he didn’t realize the driver was still in the car. He said, “The guy in the driver’s seat jumps out, comes out really fast, starts yelling at me: ‘I’m gonna call the cops!’ ‘Great,’ I said. ‘Call the cops!”


White had the pictures on his phone of the blatantly illegal license plate cover, the driver was there holding the piece of plastic, and yet, when law enforcement showed up, they decided to arrest White and let the driver go.

Allegedly, he had committed the crime of “criminal mischief,” which involves “recklessly damaging property over $250.” Yeah, sure. We’ll see if that charge sticks, but it seems unlikely.


The identity of the driver has yet to be revealed, but White previously caught the driver with the same illegally obscured plate back in August.


Run the plate, and it appears the driver got tired of being ticketed, so they came up with this one neat trick to get away with breaking the law in 2021 — by breaking yet another law. But apparently, that particular law doesn’t apply to them since the NYPD let them go.


Although at least they’ve paid most of their fines.


As you can imagine, White is not happy about the way this went down. “It’s wrong, it’s so wrong, to have the cops arrest a citizen for this,” he said. “It emboldens this sort of illegal act. They’re basically conspiring with drivers to obstruct their plates… It’s basically saying it’s perfectly fine. It makes my blood boil.”

It would be great if the NYPD actually took this kind of thing seriously. But let’s just say we’re not holding our breath.