Effingham County cracking down on illegal ATV riding

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - ATVs can be a fun way to enjoy being outside, but Effingham County deputies say they're becoming a nuisance.

"They can't just ride them like they're supposed to," said Effingham County Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie. "They've got to get on the highway. Then, they got to get in the ditch and tear the ditch up. Then, they got to get on private property and destroy somebody's private property, and that's when the problems start."

Since March, deputies have responded to 46 calls about people riding ATVs in the wrong places.

He says the worst offenders are usually high school aged and younger but says they've stopped kids as young as five years old riding ATVs illegally and alone.

"We have this problem toward the end of school when we don't have anything to do, and we're bored," McDuffie said. "When they start destroying people's property and tearing stuff up, crashing and getting killed, hurting other young people, that's when you've got to say OK, enough is enough."

Effingham County has an ordinance making it illegal to ride on public roads and the right of way, but McDuffie said there are several state laws riders could also be violating.

"Driving without a license, too fast for conditions, I mean several different things like that they could be cited for," he said.

The first time a rider is caught, deputies will give a warning. The second time, the sheriff's office will cite the rider and tow the ATV.

"Stop them, tell them, 'You're violating the law, take it home. We don't want to see it back out here,'" McDuffie said. "The second time, we write tickets. We tow it."

The sheriff said the bottom line is he wants you to have fun, but he wants you to do it safely and legally.

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