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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Texas Lawmakers Press DMV About Fraudulent Paper Tags

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During an April 26 hearing for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, state legislators pushed the agency to solve the issue of fraudulent paper tags on vehicles in the state. The hearing, held by the House Transportation Committee, was the first of several to be held in the upcoming weeks.

During the hearing, Chairman Terry Canales stated that the DMV was given authority to shut down suspicious dealerships in 2021.

“I am not here to shoot the messenger, but at some point, somebody’s got to answer to this committee and the legislature as to why it would take so long and why the media has to be the one that uncovers it so that the agency we gave a directive to can actually do something,” he said.

It has taken seven months for the DMV to implement rules and regulations to stop these fake dealers, NBC 5 News reported.

Canales called the entire tag issue a “black eye” for the State. The Texas Legislature cannot pass any bills regarding the problem until 2023, but the DMV can implement its own policies to stop fraud.

According to testimony from a Texas Department of Public Safety commander, at least 600 cars with illegal tags have been spotted in the past 16 months. According to the commander, these tags make it hard to track down a vehicle’s owner.

DPS Deputy Director Floyd Goodwin said, “Criminal street gangs and Mexican cartels are especially known to rely on this tactic, the pervasiveness we have seen time and time again.”

The committee members testified that stricter background checks for dealers are necessary to remedy the problem. NBC reported they also suggested replacing the paper tag system with something more secure.

According to the DMV, there are plans to implement fingerprinting for dealers this year, possibly by June.

Travis County investigator Sgt. Jose Escribano testified that the agency should reinstate specific units and investigators to look into small dealerships and fraudulent tags. According to NBC, Governor Greg Abbott cut funding for these task forces in 2017.

Tawny Solbrig, a mother who lost her son in a car accident, also testified on April 26. Solbrig’s son was struck by a truck with a fake tag. According to NBC, she urged the House committee to ensure the DMV takes appropriate action.

“Make sure they are doing what they need to be doing because ultimately y’all are responsible too,” Solbrig remarked.

Daniel Avitia, the acting executive director of the DMV who replaced Whitney Brewster, apologized during the hearing for how long it has taken the agency to take action.

Avitia stated it has been a challenge getting new rules implemented and rolled out.      

“As painful as it may have been to see our agency in the media and receiving those black eyes, I will say that being in the media was part of the solution,” he said.

In the upcoming weeks, the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee will also hold multiple hearings to discuss the illegal paper tag problem in the state.

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