Washington D.C. police arrested 56 individuals who were operating all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on the roads and seized roughly 41 of these vehicles. Off-road style dirt bikes and mini bikes are not permitted on public roadways in D.C. Groups of young people riding these vehicles have reportedly been causing problems across the region, particularly in the Anacostia River and Prince George County areas.
Mayor Bowser has suggested establishing an ATV riding space somewhere away from motor vehicles and pedestrians. The police are offering citizens a $250 incentive to report the identities of those partaking in these reckless and dangerous activities.
Enforcement & Civil Liability
Regis Bryant, a commander with the police district, explains that officers are not permitted to pursue (chase) those illegally operating ATVs on the roads due to the likelihood of making an already potentially dangerous situation worse. Officers are told to “monitor” the activity of these offenders instead of attempting a traffic stop. In addition to criminal charges for illegally operating an ATV, these operators may face civil liability for injuries they cause or even possible wrongful death claims in incidents with fatal outcomes.
Recent ATV Accidents
- A 23-year-old D.C. woman was initially struck by an ATV on Alabama Ave SE and the momentum then forced her into the path of an oncoming car that struck her causing significant injuries.
- In Arlington County, a large group of ATV riders converged on a gas station and began stealing merchandise and vandalizing the store before speeding away.
- A police officer was hit and “dragged” by an ATV illegally operating on a Prince George County road. Shortly after the incident, the D.C. police posted names and/or photos of approximately 245 individuals who they are looking to apprehend for such actions.
Police Seize & Destroy ATVs
Bill Sarvis, of the D.C. Police Support Bureau, says the department is destroying ATVs that they acquire that are abandoned or seized. They have a machine that is capable of separating materials such as rubber, metal, and plastic. The department wants to be certain that these vehicles are not “returned to the street”.
ATVs are sometimes subject to manufacturer recalls when defects are determined to exist in the design, production process, or involving the materials. Product defects may have dangerous consequences by leading to accidents that cause bodily harm to the operator and other motorists or bystanders. In addition, many owners of ATVs fail to adhere to the required service and maintenance requirements that can lead to operational hazards.
Risky ATV Operation
The individuals that are likely to be found operating ATVs on the city streets are often younger people that may not have much of any experience operating a vehicle on the roads. The majority are these individuals demonstrate high-risk behavior and are likely to be traveling at excessive speeds, making abrupt turns, and often are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The majority of illegal riders encountered by police or seen on surveillance footage do not wear helmets, which further increases the potential for catastrophic accident injuries.