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Jefferson Co. passes law to ban ATVs on all roads

June 18, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commission on Thursday unanimously passed a new law that makes it illegal to ride all-terrain vehicles on any roads in the county.

The law, which takes effect July 1, says anyone who violates the ordinance could be guilty of a misdemeanor, said Commissioner Jane Tabb.

Tabb said she did not know what the penalties would be for violation of the law.

The law refers to a section in state law for penalties, Tabb said.

Officials in Jefferson and Berkeley counties began looking at passing their own ATV laws despite the fact a state law was passed earlier this year.

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Among the regulations in the new state law is that 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, under the state law. ATVs can be driven on unlined roads, under the state law.

Some local officials criticized the law, saying it created more problems because of the way it was worded.

Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober called the state law "absolutely useless."

Under a provision in the state law, counties can pass tougher ATV laws if they have comprehensive plans, which all three Eastern Panhandle counties have.

An exception under the new Jefferson County ATV law is that ATV riders with a valid driver's license can cross a public road at a 90 degree angle, Tabb said.

That clause in the bill is designed to make it easier for people such as farmers who may want to use ATVs to travel between their fields, Tabb said.

The new Jefferson County ATV law also allows homeowner associations in subdivisions to petition the county commission for permission to outlaw ATV use on areas in subdivisions like storm water management areas and common areas, Tabb said.

Tabb said she was happy with the bill's wording and that the county has reached a resolution on the issue.

"I've always wanted to get ATVs off the road," Tabb said.

Officials in Berkeley and Jefferson counties say they have received complaints about people riding ATVs on local roads. Berkeley County Commissioner Howard Strauss said ATVs are the number two complaint behind dogs.

Under the Berkeley County law, which also goes into effect July 1, ATVs will no longer be allowed on any road in the county, public or private, paved or dirt. They also are banned on county property, including parks.

A first-time offenders in Berkeley County would pay a fine of up to $100 and perform 10 hours of community service; a second-time offender would pay a fine of up to $250 and perform 20 hours of community service; and a third-time offender would pay a fine of up to $1,000 and perform 100 hours of community service.

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