Woman ticketed when old license plate turns up 1,200 miles away

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 2:46 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An 85-year-old woman is among several Iowans who have received undeserved traffic violation notices when their old license plate numbers were caught on traffic cameras in New York City.

The Manhattan skyline is not a sight 85-year-old Barbara Brown has driven to see, but New York City claims she’s driven there by issuing her four traffic fines.

“I was just flabbergasted when I got the first ones because, like I say, I’ve never been there with a car,” Brown told WOWT.

But she has driven to the Pottawattamie County Treasurer’s Office, where in 2014 she turned in old license plates. The same Iowa plate number was caught on traffic cameras speeding in New York City three months ago.

“I think they need to look into these. If the vehicle is not the same as what’s on record, how can they give this person a ticket? They’re not the same vehicle,” said Lea Voss, Pottawattamie County Treasurer.

The treasurer says about 10 other Pottawattamie County residents complain they’ve received New York City traffic violation notices for license plates turned in about a decade ago and destined for Iowa Prison Industries.

“I’ve talked to our investigator. I’ve talked to DOT. They say it went to prisons, and that’s where it got shredded,” Voss said.

A spokesman for the New York City Finance Department said they see fraudulent plates from states throughout the country, and the tickets in Brown’s name have been dismissed - or so she thought.

Thinking all the notices were taken care of, then receiving a letter that says default judgment is worrisome for Brown.

“Well, I sure don’t want them to screw up my credit and come and get my car,” she said.

New York Finance said not to worry about it. The documentation clearly shows Brown is not at fault, so the notices are irrelevant.

Meanwhile, Brown says the old Iowa license plate mystery should be solved by New York’s finest.

“I’d like to have him get caught doing something. What if he wrecks that car or kills somebody? Then where am I at? Yeah, they’ll blame me,” she said.

The Iowa Department of Transportation fraud unit is looking into how old plate numbers could be on vehicles 1,200 miles away.

An investigator said that recent law requires all old plates to be turned into Iowa Prison Industries and destroyed, but it’s unclear how those were handled a decade ago. So, he’ll request New York authorities to look for anyone using the old Iowa plate numbers.

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