MoneyDon't Waste Your Money


Man's stolen license plate racks up over $1,000 in violations

How to protect yourself if your plate is lost or stolen
Traffic stop
Posted at 3:00 AM, Jun 15, 2022

Imagine being fined for traffic violations, all while your car is sitting in a junkyard. How could that happen?

One man learned the hard way, and found out it is a risk, and it's what can happen if you don't save your license plates, or if they are ever stolen.

Lee Oursler now dreads opening his mailbox, because every few days he receives a toll booth bill in the mail.

"I received two notices of violation," he said. "But then they kept sending more!"

Oursler's son-in-law Ken Keim showed a stack of EZ PASS toll bills from New York and New Jersey totaling over $1,000.

But Oursler lives in Ohio and hasn't been to New Jersey in decades.

It all started after he totaled his minivan, and it was towed away with license plates still intact.

Now, months later, that plate is popping up on toll booth cameras all around New York City, and the Ourslers can't stop it.

"We still don't know how to get an end to it," a frustrated Keim said.

It turns out that a license plate where the little tag has not yet expired is very valuable to a thief. That's because a toll booth plate reader will take a picture of it, and send the bill directly to your home.

How to protect yourself

License plate rules vary from state to state. But a spokesperson for Ohio's Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Charlie Norman, told us you should never hand over your car with plates attached.

Instead, he said:

  • Ask about transferring the plates to a new vehicle.
  • Stash them away in a safe place in your home.
  • Or turn them in to your local DMV or BMV office to be destroyed.

If they are towed away after an accident, Norman said, "work with your insurance company to either preferably get those plates back or ensure that they are destroyed by the insurance company."

One last tip: If your plates are ever lost or stolen, report the loss to the DMV and State Police to make sure tickets aren't going onto your driving record.

We've reached out to EZ PASS authorities in the hope they will waive all fees.

But Oursler says "if I would have taken the license plate off, that would have been the end of it right there."

Remember these tips, that way you don't waste your money.


Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").

Like" John Matarese Money on Facebook

Follow John on Instagram @johnmataresemoney

Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)

For more consumer news and money-saving advice, go to