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Illegal ATV use targeted in Suffolk

A new county law will allow Suffolk to crack down on all-terrain vehicles that illegally use public lands and roadways, police and county officials said Wednesday.

The law, passed unanimously earlier this month by the county legislature, allows police to seize an owner’s ATV after two convictions for illegal use. Current law requires three convictions before an ATV can be is seized.

Seized ATVs will be destroyed under the new law, rather than auctioned off. Suffolk police found they were retaking vehicles they previously had auctioned off, officials said.

“We are sending a strong message that dangerous and destructive ATV use will not be tolerated,” bill sponsor Legis. Kate Browning (WFP-Shirley) said in a statement. “If you can’t follow the law, we will seize your vehicle and destroy it.”

Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini called the legislation a tool to deter illegal ATV activity.

“The Suffolk County Police Department takes seriously illegal ATV use, the dangers it poses to safety and our public lands, and the degradation it causes to our community’s quality of life,” Sini said in a statement.

County residents have complained about ATVs speeding down streets and cutting off cars, said Browning’s chief of staff Josh Slaughter. One Shirley resident was arrested earlier this year after posting videos on YouTube of himself on an ATV being chased by Suffolk police.

Environmentalists have expressed increasing concern about the “scarring” of public lands due to illegal ATV use, particularly the Long Island Central pine barrens, Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said.

County Executive Steve Bellone plans to sign the bill, a spokesman said.

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