The Oswego Village Board is set to amend a village ordinance to allow village police to seize and impound ATVs, dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles found operating on village streets.
Also under the amended ordinance, individuals found operating off-road vehicles on local streets with or without a valid driver’s license will be subject to fines if police seize and impound their vehicles.
The amended ordinance will be on the village board’s consent agenda for final approval when board members gather at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17 at Village Hall, 100 Parkers Mill.
In a memo to the board, Police Chief Jeff Burgner noted that currently the village’s code allows for only the seizure and impounding of motor vehicles “used in certain offenses.”
Burgner continued, “The offense of operating non-highway vehicles on streets, roadways and highways” and operating those vehicles without a valid driver’s license are not currently listed as offenses subject to the village’s code.
The proposed amended ordinance would add those two offenses to the village code, Burgner wrote, and “would assist in the department’s ability to address the issue of non-highway vehicles operating on the roadways.”
Complaints regarding ATVs and dirt bikes have skyrocketed across the village in recent months and years. Information provided by police shows that calls jumped from 33 in 2019 to 127 in 2020 to 158 as of Aug. 11.
Burgner noted in his memo that between Jan. 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020 police took 45 complaints regarding ATVs and mini-bikes, while during that same time period in 2021 the department handled 152 complaints.
“The recent complaints during the summer months of 2021 have indicated the operators of the ATV and minibikes have become more brazen,” Burgner wrote. “These complaints include riding on roadways, wheelies, speeding, riding on private property, disobeying traffic signals and signs.”
On numerous occasions, Burgner added, village officers have been witness to offenses where the suspect refuses to stop for officers, which is a separate code violation and subject to a criminal charge.
As staff have researched solutions to the increase in complaints, Burgner noted that the Illinois Vehicle Code states that a “‘non-highway vehicle” is generally not allowed to operate on any street, highway, or roadway in the state unless local ordinance allows for said operation. Non-highway vehicles are defined as ATVs, golf carts, off-highway motorcycles, and recreational off-highway vehicles.
The village does not have an ordinance that allows for “non-highway vehicles” to be operated on roadways.
This story will be updated.