Targeting Town Cars: NY Ticketeers Feed Their Frenzy

Posted on August 3, 2011

NEW YORK — The Limousine Associations of New Jersey is renewing efforts this week against the escalating practice by New York authorities of fining chauffeured vehicles with tinted windows.

Since LCT last reported the hassles over limousine window tint, the number of tickets written and operators cited has multiplied. About one-quarter of LANJ’s 125-member base has been affected, with some operators getting four tickets per vehicle, one per each tinted window, at a fine of $50 to $75 per window. Along with fines, operators are losing labor time sending chauffeurs and employees to court to contest the citations.

New Jersey operators are not supposed to be ticketed for tinted windows since the windows are legal in their state. The state of New York is supposed to honor that exemption through a reciprocity agreement. But the reciprocity has been largely ignored as tinted window citations metastasize. Enforcers from three agencies now routinely hassle limousine operators: the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, the New York Police Department, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s police department at JFK International Airport, said Barry Lefkowitz, the executive director of LANJ.

Lefkowitz was scheduled to set up a conference call this week with members of the LANJ board and Matt Daus, the former Commissioner of the NYTLC who now works on behalf of the transportation industry as a private attorney with the New York City-based law firm of Windels, Marx, Lane & Mittendorf. The group is expected to discuss possible legal strategies. In addition, Lefkowitz will seek to enlist help from New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commissioner Ray Martinez.

“We’re fighting now on three different fronts,” Lefkowitz said. “This has gotten to the point of ridiculous. It’s driving us crazy and we’ve never had to deal with so many things on multiple fronts over one issue. We’re not going to stand by and allow this nonsense to continue.”

In one extreme case, a zealous officer at JFK is writing multiple tickets per vehicle, Lefkowitz said. “They claim the reciprocity only extends to the stretch limousine and that sedans somehow don’t come under the protection of reciprocity,” he said.

In a recent e-mail to Lefkowitz, Capt. Ramon Martinez [no relation to Ray Martinez], the commanding officer at the Newark Liberty and Teterboro airports, suggests that the question of law may need to be addressed in court. Apparently, New York judges have explained to limousine operators that sedans are not exempt, Martinez told Lefkowitz. “The only ones allowed to have the tinted windows are the stretch limousines,” Martinez wrote. “Should anything change, I will ensure that my officers are following proper procedures in law enforcement.”

Driving much of the tinted window enforcement is the overall push to satisfy revenue-strapped governments and local jurisdictions, Lefkowitz said. “There’s no questions in our minds that a lot of this has to do with the economic crisis. We always seem to find there’s a heavier push in enforcement when there’s a need for money.”

New Jersey-based limousine vehicles are easy targets since most operations based in that state routinely do business across state lines in New York and Connecticut while serving the most active metro area in the world for chauffeured transportation.

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

Related Topics: Barry Lefkowitz, LANJ, Matt Daus, New Jersey operators, New York Taxi & Limousine Commission, window tint

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