Skoufis bill would block $25 license-plate replacement fee

A new bill by state Sen. James Skoufis would allow New Yorkers to keep their license plates if they’re still legible, overriding a recently announced policy that has ruffled feathers by requiring drivers to buy replacements for $25 apiece if their plates are at least 10 years old.

New Yorkers would have to pay the state an additional $20 to keep their old plates under the Department of Motor Vehicles policy, which is set to begin on April 1 and has stirred friction between the Cuomo administration and lawmakers from both parties.

“I’m deeply opposed to the recent announcement that New Yorkers will soon have to spend money to replace their license plates with a new design,” Skoufis said in a Facebook statement. “The nickel and diming of state residents by the DMV and other state agencies has to stop. That’s why I’m introducing legislation to block this latest move.”

Following weeks of criticism, DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder released a long, testy statement on Friday that accused legislators of “hypocrisy and misstatements” and “seeking cheap press hits.” He defended the $25 charge for new plates by saying it was established in 2009, two years before Cuomo took office, and challenged lawmakers to return to Albany for a special session to lower that fee, which he said Cuomo supports doing.

He also pointed out that plate numbers must be readable by toll cameras, and invited lawmakers to devise an inspection system to make sure a vehicle’s plates can still be read after 10 years of life. Plates that can’t be discerned and billed cost the state money in toll revenue, he said.

“The 10 year life replacement program does not go into effect until next April so we have time to work with the legislature to explore alternatives,” Schroeder said. “We support reducing costs wherever possible.”

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