Reporting Idling Vehicles in NYC can Turn Quite a Profit

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New York City is serious about reducing emissions and it’s even paying average citizens to help in the fight for cleaner air. Currently, there’s a law preventing commercial vehicles from idling for more than three minutes while parked at a curb or just one minute in a school zone. Those tempted to ignore this law because they don’t see a police officer around might want to think twice since anyone who reports these violations can receive a cash reward.

The amount of the reward is 25 percent of the fine. That might not seem like much cash in your pocket, but fines start at $350 and go all the way up to $2,000 for repeat offenders. Making it a habit to report violations could earn you a tidy chunk of change and some people are taking advantage of the potential windfall.

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The number of summonses for viloations was just 24 back in 2017, which was before the rewards program rolled out. That number jumped to 1,038 once the reward program started in 2018.

Just how much cash did all these vigilant citizens earn for their efforts? A total of $20,000 was given to 13 people, with a couple of them taking home nearly half of those funds.

According to the New York Post, David Dong earned $4,912.80 for 47 summonses. Zachary Tinkelman earned $4,600, also from 47 summonses. That’s a pretty easy way to make some extra cash and it makes you wonder why so few people are taking advantage of the program.

All anyone has to do is fill out a form on the Department of Environmental Protection website and submit either a time-stamped photo or video of the idling vehicle. It then takes around three months for everything to work its way through the system and for the reward to be paid.

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That’s easy money for just a few minutes of effort. Anyone who’s spent the briefest time in NYC has likely seen a truck or two idling by the curb. It’s a common sight despite the law, partly because the police can only be in so many places at once. Adding citizens to the list of enforcers expands the law’s reach.

The DEP is continuing its efforts with a new website due later this spring and possible additional tools to reduce unnecessary idling. Those in NYC looking for extra spending cash might want to pay more attention to vehicles idling by the curb.

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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin

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