Lawmakers from New York and New Jersey are locked in a legislative battle over ticketing Garden State drivers.
The tit-for-tat legislation, which has not been signed into law by either state, comes amid an escalating war of words over the congestion pricing plan to toll drivers who enter Manhattan below 60th Street.
New Jersey lawmakers fired the first shot last June when their state Senate unanimously passed a bill to block the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission from sharing driver info with other states, like New York.
“It’s my hope that the very prospect of this legislation might convince some New Jersey politicians to come to their senses,” said state Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. “There’s going to have to be a price to pay if my bill passes.”
Details of how frequently the $50 fee would be imposed are not clear. The bill’s text simply states it “authorizes the imposition of a $50 fee on vehicles entering NYC which are registered in states which do not cooperate with New York in the enforcement of traffic infractions through the use of photo-monitoring devices or signal monitoring systems.”
Last week, MTA Chairman Janno Lieber lamented the “traffic deniers” opposed to congestion pricing, comparing them to climate change deniers and those who believe ex-President Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, who opposes the plan, responded by calling Lieber “a fact-and-reality denier.”
Cory Epstein, a spokesman for the safe streets advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, described the New Jersey legislation as a disgrace.
“As traffic violence impacts more and more families and congestion undermines the economic recovery on both sides of the Hudson, we need leaders to work together on shared solutions,” said Epstein, a New Jersey native. “But, the fact that New Jersey would intentionally aid and abet in traffic violence by letting their residents face no consequence for speeding is absolutely unconscionable."
If the New Jersey bill is signed into law, the state would join South Dakota as the only other state that doesn’t have a DMV sharing agreement with New York, according to New York lawmakers. A lack of cooperation from New Jersey would also make it difficult to collect fees from New York City’s automated speed cameras, which began operating 24/7 this summer.
“We are aware of the NJ Senate bill and we have serious concerns about its effect on safety should it become law,” NYC Department of Transportation spokesperson Vin Barone wrote to Gothamist. “We will always work with our colleagues across the Hudson to pursue a shared goal of safety for all who use New York City’s streets.”
New Jerseyans are among the many drivers in the New York area who spend an extraordinary amount of time behind the wheel. A study last year by apartmentlist.com found that the New York area had the most “super-commuters” in the country who spend more than 90 minutes getting to work each way.