BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County law enforcement is cracking down on so-called fake license plates that have become “very” prevalent in Erie County, county clerk Mickey Kearns said Friday.

Kearns said that people are making fake plates and even creating their own license plates by drawing license plates. This lets them avoid law enforcement for not having a license plate, as well as avoiding paying tolls.

He said that a lot of times that this comes from people buying cars online from out of state and in turn, making their own license plates.

“We have criminals now and they figure they’ll steal plates, they’ll have their own paper plates, and if they can get away with it for about a week, they’re in good shape,” Kearns said.

When a driver is caught with an illegal license plate, there can be serious consequences. Kearns said that the car itself can be impounded and the producer of the plate can face a felony charge and up to four years in prison.

“You don’t want to be messing around with this. I know everybody has a computer and everybody has a printer,” Kearns said. “You will go to jail. They are starting to heavily enforce this.”

On the flip side, having a peeling license plate is illegal and you can be pulled over and ticketed for it. However, if it is peeling you can go to an auto bureau and you can get a new plate for free.

“Law enforcement is making this a priority,” Kearns said.

You can watch the full interview from Friday’s News 4 at 4 above.

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.