Suffolk County, NY Local Law Restricting Use of Off Road Vehicles
(Unofficial copy)

Intro. Res. No. 1666-98 Laid on Table 6/2/98
Introduced by the Presiding Officer at the request of the County Executive and Legislator Towle

WHEREAS, there was duly presented and introduced to this County Legislature at a regular meeting held on August 11,1998 a proposed law entitled, "A LOCAL LAW TO RESTRICT THE USE OF OFF THE ROAD VEHICLES IN SUFFOLK COUNTY", and said local law in final form is the same as when presented and introduced; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that said local law be enacted in form as follows:




Section 1. Legislative Intent

This Legislature finds that since the repeal of Local Law 23-1985 in 1990 the number of incidents involving the illegal operations of ATV's in Suffolk County has steadily increased despite the enactment of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Article 48-C, "Rules for Operation of All Terrain Vehicles".

This Legislature further finds that the unrestricted use of ATV's continues to result in a high incidence of serious physical injuries, to both the operators of ATV's and users as well at to officers enforcing the law. The impact of such injuries extend beyond the person injured to the public at large, through the economic impact to the County of furnishing medical, emergency, rehabilitative or welfare aid and assistance to those injured.

This Legislature further finds that the unrestricted use of ATV's also results in severe economic damage including but not limited to native habitat destruction and fragmentation, soil compaction and erosion which requires extensive and costly restoration, as well as the related noise pollution to surrounding neighborhoods through ATV operation and general nuisance to the public at large and County park patrons in particular.

This Legislature further finds that to safeguard the damages caused by the increasing illegal use of ATV's, impoundment and the collection of redemption fees has acted as a deterrent to such use. Specifically, this Legislature notes that there was a reduction in second offenses when impoundment and redemption were previously authorized.

This Legislature further finds that Suffolk County in unique in that is owns more park and conservation land than any other county in the State of New York. Therefore, to protect its substantial investment in public property and to safeguard the property of its citizens in the county, additional restrictions are required to be placed on the use of ATV's in Suffolk County which are not found in the pertinent New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws.

Therefore, the purpose of this legislation is to ensure public safety, environmental protection and the general welfare of Suffolk County and its citizens by restricting the use of ATV's off public highways without obtaining the prior written consent of the property owner to operate such vehicles on such property and by empowering law enforcers to impound said vehicles.

Section 2. Definitions

a) "All Terrain Vehicle" or "ATV" means any self-propelled vehicle which is manufactured for sale for operation primarily on off-highway trails or off-highway competitions and only incidentally operated on public highways providing that such vehicle does not exceed seventy inches in width, or one thousand pounds of dry weight. ATV shall not include agricultural vehicles, nor any vehicles used for law enforcement, fire, emergency, or military purposes.

b) "Person" shall mean an individual and shall not include a police officer, peace officer or member of the United States armed forces acting within the scope of his public employment or duties.

c) "Public highway" shall mean any highway, road, alley, street, avenue, public place, public driveway, or any other public way.

d) "Operate" means to ride in or on, other than as a passenger, or use or control the operation of an ATV in any manner, whether or not said ATV is under way.

e) "Operator" means every person who operates or is in actual physical control of an ATV.

Section 3. Limitations on Use of ATV's

a) Public Property. No person shall operate an ATV off a public highway on public property in the County of Suffolk.

b) Private Property. No person shall operate an ATV off a public highway on private property in the County of Suffolk unless he has first obtained the express written consent of the property owner to operate the ATV on the property. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the operator of an ATV off a public highway on private property in Suffolk County lacks the consent to operate the ATV if the operator cannot produce written consent from the property owner.

Section 4. Penalties and Enforcement

Failure to comply with Section 3 of this law shall constitute a violation and shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $250.00. Any person who violates Section 3 of this law after having been convicted of a violation of Section 3 within the last five years shall be punishable by a minimum of $250.00 and up to a maximum of $500.00. The parent or legal guardian, other than a state or legal social services department foster parent having custody, of any unemancipated person under the age of eighteen (18) years of age found guilty of a violation of this law shall be responsible for the payment of the fine imposed by a Court of competent jurisdiction for such violation. In no event shall it be a defense that the parent or legal guardian has exercised due diligent supervision over the activities of the person under the age of eighteen (18) years of age.

Section 5. Impoundment and Redemption

In addition to the penalties set forth in Section 4 of this law, a police officer or peace officer may immediately impound an ATV operated in violation of Section 3 of this law. Such impounded ATV shall be stored by the pertinent police department or enforcement agency pending the identification of the owner and notice of such impoundment. The law enforcement agency shall not be liable for any damages arising out of the provision of an erroneous name or address of such owner. The owner of the ATV utilized in violation of this law may redeem the same upon satisfactory proof of ownership and payment of a $250.00 redemption fee. Such impounded ATV may only be released to the owner of the ATV or to his or her agent as evidenced by a written, notarized agent agreement or duly executed power of attorney.

Section 6. Separability

If any part of or provisions of this law, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, shall be adjudged invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, such judgment shall be confined in its operation to the part of or provision of, or application directly involved in, the controversy in which such the remainder of this law, or the application thereof to other persons or circumstances.

Section 7. S.E.Q.R.A. Determination

This Legislature, being the lead agency under the State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA"), Env. Con. Law Art. 8, hereby finds and determines that this law constitutes a Type II action, pursuant to Title 6 of New York Code of Rules and Regulations ("NYCRR") Sections 617.5(c)(20) and (27), in that the law pertains to routine or continuing agency administration and management, not including new programs or major reordering of priorities that may affect the environment. Since this law is a Type II action, the Legislature has no further responsibilities under SEQRA.

Section 8. Effective Date

This law shall take effect immediately upon filing with the Secretary of State.

DATED: November 24, 1998

Robert Gaffney
County Executive of Suffolk County
After a public hearing duly held on 12/7/98
Date of Approval: 12/7/98
Filed with the Secretary of State on 12/21/98