Proposed rules to increase fines for driving an ATV on city roads got the green light from Atlanta City Council’s public safety committee Tuesday.
The ordinance, introduced by Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd and unanimously approved by the panel, comes after a recent flood of ATVs on public streets.
The rules propose first-time violators be fined $750. The fine would increase to $1,000 for a second offense, and 30 days to six months in jail for the third offense. Four or more offenses would warrant 60 days to six months in jail.
Shepherd initially wanted first-time offenders to pay $1,000.
The ATV activity, “clearly a safety issue,” is only gaining momentum, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields told council members. “We need a little legislative help.”
Numerous arrests for traffic violations related to riding off-road vehicles have been made in recent years, but police generally do not engage in chasing the riders because it’s too dangerous. Many residents and commuters find the behavior, which can involve large groups of drivers running red lights and driving on the wrong side of the road, hazardous.
Atlanta resident Charvette Trimble implored leaders to not water down the bill with lesser fines, saying she was “nearly run over by one of these thugs riding on a dirt bike” while getting her mail.
Members of ATL Bike Life, a group that says it advocates the phrase “Bikes Up, Guns Down,” have previously said they ride in the street because there’s no designated place to ride in the city, such as a bike park. None of the members spoke at the committee meeting.
Sir Maejor Page, president of Black Lives Matter Greater Atlanta, advocated for the riders at the meeting.
“I think there’s a misconception of this notion that everyone who rides ATVs in Atlanta are thugs. That’s bizarre,” he said. Page supports some type of regulations, but not mandatory jail time for ATV offenders.
Late last year, Channel 2 Actions News spoke to an ATL Bike Life member, identified as Xavier.
“Guys that got skateboards, they skated everywhere with the skateboards for a long time, illegally,” Xavier said. “And then I look back around; they gave them a park.”
The proposal for increased fines will go before the full council July 5.
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