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If D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie has his way, the District may soon put additional brakes on dirt bikes and ATVs by imposing harsher penalties for operating those vehicles in public. McDuffie introduced the bill this morning at the Council’s regular meeting. The legislation comes on the heels of a growing number of incidents and drive-by crimes related to dirt bikes and ATVs. Under current D.C. law, it is already illegal to drive or ride one of these vehicles on the streets; they can’t be registered with the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles for this reason.
“If a vehicle is parked on public space, it will be towed,” McDuffie said. “I’m confident that with the executive and legislative branches working together, we can find a solution to this problem.”
The bill would amend a 1925 D.C. Traffic Act, making it illegal for people to park dirt bikes and ATVs on public property, and requiring owners to register them. The bill would also ratchet up the penalties for driving the vehicles in the city:
- 1st offense: 30 days in jail, up to a $250 fine, or both
- 2nd offense: 90 days in jail, up to a $500 fine, or both, and a 6-month permit suspension
- 3rd offense: 180 days in jail, up to a $1000 fine, or both and a 1-year permit suspension
Just last month, 27-year-old journalist Charnice Milton was killed in Skyland by a teen who was allegedly riding a dirt bike or moped and had intended to shoot another young woman. (The woman reportedly used Milton as a shield.) Video footage later showed seven dirt bikes and ATVs in the area—possibly linked to the crime. Notably, the Metropolitan Police Department has a “no-chase” policy that prohibits officers from pursuing suspects on illegal ATVs and dirt bikes, citing public safety concerns.
“[We] concu[r] with the fact that giving chase to these types of illegal vehicles creates a serious risk to citizens, officers, and even riders themselves,” the D.C. Police Union stated in a June 22 press release. “Our officers are doing what they can within the law and with the safety of the community in mind…The sentences and the penalties [for operating dirt bikes and ATVs] must be more reflective of how the rest of us view this behavior: intolerable and highly dangerous.”
Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Yvette Alexander, Mary Cheh, and Jack Evans cosponsored it.
Photo via Shutterstock