Real_and_Fake_NY_Plates.jpgThere appears to be another license plate problem for New York, but unlike the problem of people and groups getting official license plates without being eligible, this situation wasn't created by the DMV. A Missouri-based charity that provides bicycle helmets to children and sells old license plates as a fund-raiser, the American Children’s Safety Network (ASCN), is selling what appears to be a new design of a New York optional license plate in both car and motorcycle sizes.

However, a quick check of the New York DMV website shows that there is no such license plate issued by the state and the plates do seem a bit off when compared to the plates offered by the DMV. We should note that the DMV does offer a license plate with a bluebird and it looks nothing like the ASCN plate which looks like a mashup of a regular New York plate.

The distressing thing about these New York plates that ASCN is offering is that they, unlike the typical souvenir license plates you would find at a tourist gift shop or movie prop plates, are fully reflective and, at least superficially, have all the telltale signs that you would find on an authentic license plate. When we made an inquiry about one of the eBay auctions, we were told that the plates were not made by New York, but were instead produced "by a different state specifically for our organization." Yet there was no indication that the plates were not produced by New York State in both the eBay auctions and the organization’s web site.

The plates themselves are flat and appear to have been produced using the 3M Digital License Plate System which produces a flat license plate using digital printing. 3M claims the system actually enhances plate security, however we recently saw on a message board a set of instructions on how to make a rather convincing fake with items that are readily available.

Judging from the hologram code, the plates seem to have been produced in Montana since the "US" code is the same that is on current plates from the state, as opposed to official New York plates' "NY" code. However, you would have to examine the license plate closely and have the light hit it just right to notice it.

We spoke with a spokesperson at the DMV in Albany who told us the plates were "not in violation of the law" (Section 402a of the Vehicle & Traffic Law) and they do not look like the bluebird plate the state offers. Still, it seems very wrong that anyone could get such a thing produced that looks reasonably authentic and some other state's DMV produced them.