HOUSTON - A major shakeup was announced this week within the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
On Monday, TxDMV Executive Director Whitney Brewster announced her resignation. Brewster, and the TxDMV, have faced scrutiny over the last few months over fake temporary Texas paper license plates.
"Unfortunately, challenges and difficulties still face the state and organization," said Brewster in a resignation letter sent to reporters. "I understand the frustrations of our stakeholders to the problems and evolving situations we are working daily to resolve."
Bogus temporary Texas tags can be seen on cars across Texas and the United States. People purchase these fake tags online through fictitious dealerships. Using a TxDMV loophole, the dealers have been able to sell fake temporary license plates by the tens of thousands to make easy money.
People purchase these because their car would fail inspection, to avoid taxes and tolls, or hide their identity to commit crimes.
"Whenever you look at violent crime, and violent criminals, what are they riding around in? Expired fictitious plates," said Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner.
During the last two weeks of January, Harris County deputies worked with the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA) to crack down on the fake illegal tags. Throughout those two weeks, deputies issued 909 citations for illegal temporary tags on Harris County toll roads. This effort led to 19 arrests, 115 vehicles with fraudulent tags or titles towed, and cleared 81 open misdemeanor and felony warrants.
"Due to that enforcement over the last 90 days, we’ve seen the use of those types of tags drop by 44%," said Assistant Chief Calvin Harvey from the HCTRA.
Following several FOX 26 reports, the TxDMV also recently announced changes to their dealership licensing processes. The state agency now plans to "limit the number of temporary tags available to dealers" while also "denying bad actors access to the temporary tag database, when fraudulent activity is discovered."
"The people we want to go after and target, are the guys in the flea market selling 50,000 tags a month," said Sgt. Tracy Hicks from HPD’s Auto Theft Crime Task Force. "Those are the guys we want to go after, but the DMV hasn’t been real helpful. Anything that tightens things up for the criminals to sell these fake tags, we welcome it."
Members of Texas law enforcement agencies are hopeful the changes help.
According to Harvey, the HCTRA will continue to crack down on drivers with fake temporary license plates on Harris County toll roads.
"I think we’re going to make great strides to eliminate this problem," said Harvey.