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Sheriff given OK to draft ATV law

March 19, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

The Jefferson County Commissioners on Thursday authorized Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober to draft a law regulating, and possibly banning from public roads, all-terrain vehicles in the county.

Boober asked the Jefferson County Commission Thursday morning to consider formulating an ATV law for the county. Earlier this week, he criticized the new state law regulating ATVs, calling it "absolutely useless."

Officials in Jefferson and Berkeley counties said earlier they often are swamped with complaints about people driving ATVs recklessly and said they would consider passing their own, more stringent laws.

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West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise last week signed into law a bill that regulates ATVs. Under the state law:

  • ATVs cannot be driven on roads with center lines or more than two lanes except to cross them at a 90-degree angle.

  • ATVs are allowed on the shoulder of roads with center lines or more than two lanes at speeds of 25 mph for up to 10 miles.

  • ATVs can be driven on unlined roads.


Boober asked the commissioners to visualize how W.Va. 9 on the Blue Ridge Mountain could look if the county relies on the state law to regulate ATVs.

Regular traffic could be flowing in both directions on the highway while ATVs could be traveling in opposite directions on the shoulder at the same time, he said

"I'm very disappointed with our Legislature," Boober told the commissioners.

Boober and the commissioners discussed prohibiting ATVs on all roads under state jurisdiction.

County Commissioner Greg Corliss asked whether they would be able to control ATVs on gravel roads. Boober said many gravel roads in the county are under state control.

Boober suggested that people living in housing subdivisions could create their own ATV laws.

The commissioners told Boober to draft an ATV proposal and bring it to them for their consideration.

They appeared to be supportive of Boober's concerns about ATV use, and Commissioner Jane Tabb called the situation "an accident waiting to happen."

In addition to operating ATVs recklessly, riders often destroy personal property, such as fences, Boober said.

When deputies see ATV riders, they often "taunt us" by standing up on the vehicles, Boober said. It is often hard to catch ATV riders who drive recklessly or destroy property because they speed off into wooded areas, Boober said.

Given Boober's comments, Corliss said he wondered if it would be possible to enforce any ATV law.

Commission President Al Hooper suggested an ATV licensing system that would require some type of license plate for ATVs. That way, police could determine who was operating an ATV by getting a license plate number, he said.

Boober said it was an idea worth considering.

"We're not going to pursue them through the woods with a cruiser you provide us," Boober said.

Boober has requested two ATVs that would be used by deputies to control ATV use and to enforce other laws. The commissioners are considering the request as part of their budget.

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