From left, Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison, County Leg. Jim Mazzarella and...

From left, Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison, County Leg. Jim Mazzarella and County Executive Steve Bellone, with an ATV on Wednesday in Yaphank where they discussed legislation designed to crackdown on illegal use of the vehicles. Credit: James Carbone

ATV drivers traveling recklessly and illegally down streets and highways in Suffolk County are the target of a new crackdown that includes heavy fines, officials said Wednesday.

Legislation passed by the Suffolk County Legislature and signed into law Wednesday by County Executive Steve Bellone includes fines up to $7,500 and the seizure of reckless drivers' all-terrain vehicles.

Lawmakers acted in response to numerous complaints from residents about ATVs, which are illegal on highways and streets.

“Today we are sending a message that anyone who illegally operates a ATV putting fellow citizens in danger will be held accountable,” Bellone said at a news conference in front of police headquarters in Yaphank.

In 2022, authorities seized 124 ATVs in Suffolk County and logged 1,500 complaints from residents about the vehicles, Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said.

The drivers, often traveling in packs, harass and endanger other motorists, officials said, citing as one example a pack of about 25 ATV drivers shutting down part of Sunrise Highway near Hospital Road in Patchogue.

Many ATV drivers are “weaving in and out, they’re cutting in front, going in wrong directions, don’t have lights on at night, harassing cars sometimes also,” said Leg. Steve Flotteron (R-Brightwaters).

First-time offenders will now face a maximum fine of $1,000, officials said, rising to $3,000 for the second time and $7,500 for the third time.

Police can also seize the ATVs of offending drivers, and make them pay a $3,000 fine to retrieve the vehicle after a second seizure.

Officials hope the fines “will deter anyone who thinks about getting on an ATV and illegally driving it on our roadways or on someone else’s property,” Bellone said. “Signing this legislation is a major step forward for the public safety of our communities.”

One co-owner of a shop that sells ATVs said he thought the officials’ approach was misguided. Instead of cracking down, they should try to create legal locations for the vehicles where drivers would pay fees and the government would make money, said Ryan Lawrence, of Off-Road N’ Outdoors Inc. in Smithtown.

“I think it could benefit the island huge,” he said.

Legis. James Mazzarella (R-Moriches) said illegal use of ATVs is among the top issues in his district, and he brought it up with Harrison when he was being interviewed last year for the top cop job.

Harrison on Wednesday described the off-road vehicles as "a nuisance."

“They are a menace to our community," he said.

Suffolk is offering a $200 reward through Crime Stoppers (1-800-220-TIPS) for anyone who reports a reckless and illegal ATV driver and that leads to the vehicle being seized, Harrison said.

“It’s not just an issue in Suffolk County,” he added. “It’s an issue in the state of New York and it’s a national issue that needs to be addressed.”

ATV drivers traveling recklessly and illegally down streets and highways in Suffolk County are the target of a new crackdown that includes heavy fines, officials said Wednesday.

Legislation passed by the Suffolk County Legislature and signed into law Wednesday by County Executive Steve Bellone includes fines up to $7,500 and the seizure of reckless drivers' all-terrain vehicles.

Lawmakers acted in response to numerous complaints from residents about ATVs, which are illegal on highways and streets.

“Today we are sending a message that anyone who illegally operates a ATV putting fellow citizens in danger will be held accountable,” Bellone said at a news conference in front of police headquarters in Yaphank.

In 2022, authorities seized 124 ATVs in Suffolk County and logged 1,500 complaints from residents about the vehicles, Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said.

The drivers, often traveling in packs, harass and endanger other motorists, officials said, citing as one example a pack of about 25 ATV drivers shutting down part of Sunrise Highway near Hospital Road in Patchogue.

Many ATV drivers are “weaving in and out, they’re cutting in front, going in wrong directions, don’t have lights on at night, harassing cars sometimes also,” said Leg. Steve Flotteron (R-Brightwaters).

First-time offenders will now face a maximum fine of $1,000, officials said, rising to $3,000 for the second time and $7,500 for the third time.

Police can also seize the ATVs of offending drivers, and make them pay a $3,000 fine to retrieve the vehicle after a second seizure.

Officials hope the fines “will deter anyone who thinks about getting on an ATV and illegally driving it on our roadways or on someone else’s property,” Bellone said. “Signing this legislation is a major step forward for the public safety of our communities.”

One co-owner of a shop that sells ATVs said he thought the officials’ approach was misguided. Instead of cracking down, they should try to create legal locations for the vehicles where drivers would pay fees and the government would make money, said Ryan Lawrence, of Off-Road N’ Outdoors Inc. in Smithtown.

“I think it could benefit the island huge,” he said.

Legis. James Mazzarella (R-Moriches) said illegal use of ATVs is among the top issues in his district, and he brought it up with Harrison when he was being interviewed last year for the top cop job.

Harrison on Wednesday described the off-road vehicles as "a nuisance."

“They are a menace to our community," he said.

Suffolk is offering a $200 reward through Crime Stoppers (1-800-220-TIPS) for anyone who reports a reckless and illegal ATV driver and that leads to the vehicle being seized, Harrison said.

“It’s not just an issue in Suffolk County,” he added. “It’s an issue in the state of New York and it’s a national issue that needs to be addressed.”

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