New York City allows program targeting reckless drivers to expire

A program that aimed to get dangerous drivers off of the roads of New York City has expired, with no apparent plans to seek any alternatives.

What is the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program?

The Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, or DVAP, requires the owner of vehicles that are caught running red lights five times in a year, or caught speeding in school zones 15 times within 12 months, to take a driver safety course. 

Those who do not can have their vehicles seized by the NYC Sheriff’s Office.


Reckless NYC drivers could lose their cars under new law

A new law that takes effect on Feb. 26, 2021, allows the city to impound your car if you incur a certain number of tickets unless you take a safe driving course overseen by the DOT.

Despite what many consider to be generous conditions under which a car owner is flagged, 1,600 car owners were caught often enough to trigger DVAP notices.

But the city's Department of Transportation said the education complement did not change the habits of the drivers, and the same vehicles continued to rack up more red light or speeding tickets.

Nonetheless, the fact the city is allowing the program to run out is causing disbelief among some transportation experts, especially at a time when traffic crashes are so many people on city streets.

"In this moment, we need to be doing everything we can," said Elizabeth Adams, of Transportation Alternatives. "If our city is saying they're okay with having one less tool at its disposal to hold reckless driver as accountable, then what message does that send to New Yorkers? What message does that send to parents who are trying to get their kids safely to school, or to people who have lost a loved one to traffic violence? It's putting our communities at risk."

New York City comptroller, Brad Lander, agrees. He sponsored the bill when he was a member of the city council.

"We need better programs to get the most reckless drivers off the street," Lander said. "We can strengthen that dangerous vehicle abatement program, but to just let it expire with nothing in its place, what it means is the most reckless drivers in our city who get 25, 50, 75, 100 speeding violations, who run red lights over and over and over again, they’ll just keep paying that $50 ticket like they already were. They'll stay out there on the streets."

In response, the DOT said since the education-based program did not work, it’s calling on Albany to get involved, saying state laws are needed to create consequences that would take dangerous drivers off the roads.

"Our comprehensive evaluation of the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, which included a rigorous analysis of the driving records of hundreds of participants, found that the program, while well-intentioned, was ineffective at meaningfully reducing unsafe driving. We welcome the Comptroller’s partnership in advocating for new state laws to get dangerous drivers off the road and plan to do other targeted driver education."