East Haven Police targeting ATVs, owners cry foul

East Haven police
East Haven police

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Police are still cracking down on illegal ATV riders. On Thursday, they arrested a 17-year-old and an 11-year-old for riding ATVs on a street and in a park.

Officers seized the ATVs and issued summonses for reckless driving, reckless endangerment and operating without a license, but East Haven ATV owners say it’s unfair because they have nowhere else to publicly ride them.

“If you have your own property your neighbors will complain if you ride on your own property,” said one East Haven ATV owner.

Sometimes, reckless drivers of ATVs are caught riding the off-road bikes up and down public streets as if they are at a park or a race track. It’s scary for other drivers, and illegal in Connecticut.

“We have received a lot of calls from the public they are concerned about it,” said Lt. David Emerman of the East Haven Police Department. “They are definitely concerned about it, some of them feel in fear and I understand that.” But ATV owners say they don’t have a choice.

“I believe some of them are reckless and some aren’t, but there is no where for them to ride,” said Richard Sartini of East Haven.

“I would love to ride and call up some of my friends and say let’s go riding,” said another anonymous East Haven ATV owner.

However, with nowhere in the State of Connecticut to publicly legally ride, you’re likely to see the dare-devil reckless ATV riders wreaking havoc on public streets, instead of using the bikes as they are intended.

ATVs are popular with young people and they say they are willing to break the law if they have to use the bikes they have worked hard to buy.

ATV owners
ATV owners

But police are just as diligent in catching them as they are to ride the bike on public streets and parks.

“Yesterday we made two arrests that were directly linked to the ATVs and dirt bikes,” Emerman said.

Some ATV owners let their bikes collect dust instead of breaking the law. They say they don’t understand why there isn’t any public place in Connecticut to legally ride them, when it’s perfectly legal to buy them here. “They take our money to register them. They take our money to insure them. They take our money for everything in the state but they don’t give anything to us as riders,” said Sartini.

“We actually went as far as registering them [and] doing it all legal and supposedly, the money was going toward creating somewhere for us to legally ride them,” said an anonymous ATV owner in East Haven. “That has never happened.”

East Haven police say Route 80 is a hotspot for ATV riders to break the law and fly down the busy street. Nearby, police sat watching and waiting to catch illegal riders. But is this system truly fair? Connecticut allows ATVs to be sold here, collects the sales tax and registration fees for them, knowing that there really isn’t a place to legally ride them.


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