New York state officials are now saying if a license plate is in good condition and it can be read by plate-reading technology, drivers can keep the license plate.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo faced heavy criticism when his office unveiled a plan to require three million drivers with plates that are 10 years or older to automatically get new plates when they renew their registration. A $25 replacement fee would be added to the registration fee, with an additional $20 if drivers want to keep the same license plate number. Cuomo has argued the replacement are necessary for electronic plate readers, like red-light cameras and cashless tolling systems.
It appears that state officials are softening their requirement, saying that if a driver's license plate is in good condition and readable then they can keep the plate if the state can find a way to inspect the license plate.
On Friday, Cuomo said if the license plate is in "fine condition" that they would be open to people keeping their license plate, but that the state would need to find a way to inspect a license plate to determine whether or not it needs to be replaced, according to CBS New York. Cuomo raised the possibility of adding this to the annual car inspection process.
Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul echoed a similar sentiment when asked her thoughts on Sen. Rob Ortt's, R-North Tonawanda, legislation that would give the Department of Motor Vehicles the ability to waive the $25 fee.
"I think a lot has evolved over the last couple days and it's important to realize we're just trying to do the best thing to make sure we can ensure that the license plates that are out there are readable," Hochul said inside the Verizon Media office in Lockport, noting that it's a security issue if the license plate is not readable for red light cameras or thruway tolls. "But, if your license plate is currently functioning, than you're welcome to keep it. And that's what the governor has said."
Ortt criticized the governor for his latest statements, saying he should issue the license plates free of charge.
"I am impressed that three weeks after the governor’s disastrous rollout of license plate renewal fees, he has found yet another excuse for his unpopular money grab by playing the public safety card. If the governor wants to find a practical way to ensure all of the license plates are suitable to his liking, then he should issue every driver in New York a license plate free of charge," Ortt said in a statement. "He has every statutory tool at his disposal to reverse this disastrous policy proposal but has yet to do so to save face with the general public."