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Recreational riders beware
Sheriff warns 4-wheeler and dirt bike owners they will be fined if caught riding on public streets or levees
By M. Susanne Hinkle -   Mar 23, 2006

Recreational riders beware

The St. Charles Parish Sheriff's office is cracking down on people riding recreational vehicles on public roads. They recently issued a statement warning people that if they are caught riding 4-wheelers, dirt bikes or other off-road vehicles on public roads, they will be issued a ticket and fined. The sheriff's office is clamping down on the law due to a rise in complaints of children riding off road vehicles in neighborhoods.

In a recent incident, several children ages 11-14, were arrested and released for riding 4-wheelers and dirt bikes behind Lakewood School, where there is a well-known dirt trail behind the baseball fields. The children were arrested for criminal trespassing.

One of the mothers of the youths that were arrested stated that it’s a shame that there’s no place near Willowdale for the kids to ride even though the neighborhood is surrounded by woods and dirt trails. “Even parents would go out there and ride on the trails,” she said.

Unlicensed vehicles, such as 4-wheelers, dirt bikes, motorized scooters, go-carts and golf carts, are prohibited on public roads and levees throughout St. Charles Parish. Deputies will be strictly enforcing these laws, emphasized Champagne.

The sheriff said that there have been recent reports of these recreational vehicles hitting pedestrians on bicycles. "Accidents with injuries involving these vehicles have occurred in St. Charles Parish. These vehicles aren't designed to be operated safely on public streets; they are for off road use only," Sheriff Champagne said.

"In most cases, the recreational vehicles are operated by children without any regard to noise and speeding. In recent months, we have cited 30 or so people that were caught violating the law," said the Sheriff. He went on to say, "Some are operating these vehicles on levees and causing erosion therefore, affecting the level of flood safety of residents."

"The number of complaints my office has received regarding recreational vehicles on public streets continues to rise," said Sheriff Greg Champagne, who added that violators will be cited for equipment violations and will have their vehicle impounded.

"A simple rule to follow is if your vehicle doesn't have a license plate, break tag, and insurance, then it cannot be operated on public streets," Sheriff Champagne said. "Properly licensed vehicles can only be operated by a licensed driver."

"In many cases, kids driving these vehicles on public streets are doing so with the consent of parents. I need parents' help in stopping these violations," the Sheriff said, noting violations could result in fines against the owner of the vehicle as well as the offender. "We will no longer issue warnings encouraging compliance."

Violators could face hundreds of dollars in fines and the expense of the vehicle's towing and impoundment.

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