Four teens fined $750 for violating dirt bike laws in Hampden; What are the rules?

Hampden County

HAMPDEN, Mass. (WWLP) – Four teens were fined $750 each for riding dirt bikes in Hampden without proper registration or safety certification. Now, one mom is spreading the word so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Melanie Beck told 22News her son and three friends were riding around her property with her permission Monday when Massachusetts Environmental Police showed up and handed out the citations. Each teen was hit with a $250 fine for operating an unregistered recreation vehicle and a $500 for operation of a recreation vehicle without a safety certification.

Beck is concerned that not enough people in the dirt bike community know these rules and hopes their experience can be one others can learn from.

“Just in the last year, my husband and my son participated in two races and not one of those places in Massachusetts asked for the registered vehicle or if my son being 16 had taken the class,” she explained.

Her son Dominic and his friend, Jameson Kertenis, are upset about what happened and about the expensive $750 fine.

“I would probably not be able to pay that and I think its kind of ridiculous they couldn’t have just issued a warning and then have to pay it next time if you get caught again,” Kertenis said.

“We’re kids, we’re just trying to have fun, there’s like people doing drugs and stuff, vaping, they could be getting after them instead of getting after us,” Dominic said.

Massachusetts Environmental Police spokesman Craig Gilvarg told 22News the safety education requirement for young dirt bike drivers was established in 2010. He added that parents have the right to appeal any citation for violations.

Melanie says she plans to do just that.

“Parents in Hampden and Wilbraham in the last 24 hours are livid,” she said. “They are writing all over Facebook community pages about how upset they are that this is not OK because our kids are not doing drugs they are out having fun,” Beck said.

So what are the laws regarding dirt bikes in Massachusetts?

Registration

In Massachusetts, recreation vehicles operated on both public and private property must be registered through Massachusetts Environmental Police.

Recreation vehicles are defined as:

Any motor vehicle designed or modified for use over unimproved terrain for recreation or pleasure while not on a public way. This includes all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, dirt bikes, and recreation utility vehicles. Also included are all registered motor vehicles when operated off of a public way.

Mass.gov

Age restrictions

Under state law, everyone under the age of 18 must complete an approved recreation vehicle safety and responsibility course before operating a recreation vehicle.

Drivers 14 to 16 years old are also prohibited from operating a recreation vehicle with an engine capacity greater than 90 cubic centimeters. Drivers between ages 14 and 16 also must be supervised by an adult at all times.

The law is more strict with even younger drivers. Kids between 10 and 14 years old are not allowed to operate a recreation vehicle unless directly supervised by an adult while in preparation for, or while participating in, a sanctioned race, rally, or organized event that has been approved by a municipal permitting authority. Drivers under 10 years of age may only operate age/size-appropriate dirt bikes under adult supervision in while preparing for or while participating in these events.

Prohibited operation

According to Mass.gov, the following are some examples of prohibited operation of recreation vehicles:

  • Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Operating on public ways or upon or across a controlled-access highway
  • Failure to come to a complete stop when crossing an approved public way (must yield to motor vehicle traffic)
  • Operating at an unreasonable, improper, or unsafe speed for existing conditions
  • Operating on land of another without written permission of the owner
  • Operating within 150 feet of a residence without permission of the owner
  • Operating a vehicle which emits noxious fumes or makes excessive noise
  • Operating in a manner that causes damage to public or private property
  • Operating on an ocean beach or sand dune in a manner so as to destroy, damage or break down any beach, dune or dune grass
  • Operating in a manner so as to harass or chase wildlife or domestic animals
  • Operating on any public property not designated for recreation vehicle use

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