Dirt Bike Riders Could Face More Jail Time Under D.C. Proposal

People caught driving dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles in the District would face increased jail time and fines under legislation proposed Tuesday.

Police are not allowed to chase people zipping through city streets and sidewalks on dirt bikes and ATVs, sometimes in large groups, but D.C. Councilman Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) wants police to have more power to confront them.

Legislation introduced by McDuffie on Tuesday would slam riders with as much as six months in jail and a $1,000 fine after they're caught riding on city streets for a third time.

"We don't want them riding in packs, intimidating pedestrians and intimidating other drivers," McDuffie said. "We think that enhancing the penalties in this way really suggests to these folks who are riding these bikes that if you do so in the District of Columbia, the consequences are going to be severe."

Currently, those caught riding ATVs or dirt bikes in D.C. face the possibility of 30 days in jail, a fine as high as $250 fine or both. The penalty is the same no matter how many times a rider is found in violation.

The bill would require all dirt bike and ATV owners to register their bikes with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

"We want all law-abiding dirt bike owners to be able to hitch their bikes to a vehicle, take it out somewhere where they've got plenty of space to ride," McDuffie said. "But we don't want them riding on our streets."

Under McDuffie's proposal, the penalty for a first-time offense would remain the same. The penalty for a second offense would rise to 90 days in jail, a fine as high as $500 or both, plus a six-month suspension of the driver's permit.

The proposed restrictions follow the May 27 shooting death of Charnice Milton, a 27-year-old local news reporter. She was gunned down by someone in a pack of 14 dirt bike and ATV riders whose target is believed to be someone in another pack of riders.

The legislation will likely be discussed at a public hearing in the fall, when D.C. Council is back in session.

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