SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield City Council voted unanimously Monday night that would prohibit gas stations from selling fuel to illegal dirt bikers.
The ordinance is an attempt to work with gas stations to curb the issue of illegal dirt bikes and off-highway vehicles throughout the city and it was signed by Mayor Sarno on Tuesday. Gas stations that violate the ordinance would receive a warning for their first offense and $100 fines for each subsequent violation.
“We’ve met with officials from other municipalities that have had this ordinance on the books for several years, and they’ve reported that they have not had to issue a single citation to gas station owners,” Ramos said. “They were able to work together to reduce the problem without having to issue any fines. Here in Springfield, we will be taking a similar approach.”
Springfield City officials are hopeful that other communities will also follow suit and implement efforts to get illegal dirt bikes off the roads.
“I am not going to tolerate this lawlessness. This is not Mad-Max… this is not the thunderdome,” said Sarno, who is now also looking to neighboring communities to also take on similar measures. “If you can lock down regionally they can’t gas up. You can’t gas up in Springfield, you cant gas up in Chicopee, you can’t as up in Holyoke. But we also need the courts to back us up when we do make these arrests and issue these citations.”
City officials say this is a partnership with gas station owners to get them to work with Springfield Police to get illegal dirt bikes off the road. At the state level, legislation has been filed that would give authority to confiscate and destroy illegal dirt bikes. State Representative Orlando Ramos says this is crucial for the city of Springfield.
In July 2019, the City Council passed an ordinance that introduced municipal fines for illegal riders, as well as a home rule petition to give the police department authority to confiscate and destroy illegal dirt bikes and off-highway vehicles. Both measures were introduced by Councilor Ramos.
Mayor Sarno states, “I want to thank and commend the City Council, especially Councilor/Representative Orlando Ramos, who was the lead sponsor, for his efforts and leadership on passing this public safety and quality of life ordinance. This is yet another tool we can now use to crack down on these illegal dirt bikes. As Councilor/Representative Ramos indicated, Hartford and New Haven already have similar laws in place with little to no issues. We are not going to stand for this lawlessness, dangerous and disrespectful behavior; this is not ‘Mad Max Thunderdome’! I want to also thank our Springfield Police Department, State Police and Sheriff Nick Cocchi who have been good partners with our ongoing response to keep our residents and business community safe. Now we need our courts to back up our actions.”
Councilor/Representative Ramos stated, “I hope that this ordinance will make the streets a little safer. The goal is to work in partnership with the local gas station owners, and to give the police department the tools that they need to get these illegal vehicles off the road; and I think we’ve accomplished that.”
Mayor Sarno continues, “Additionally, back in August, Councilor/Representative Ramos and I met with city officials from Holyoke and Chicopee and those respective communities will sponsor similar legislation for their communities as part of our joint regional efforts to directly address and curb these illegal dirt bikes. I also remain hopeful that our home rule legislation, also sponsored and filed by Representative Ramos, to seize and destroy these illegal dirt bikes passes the State Legislature.”
Chicopee and Holyoke have already introduced their own versions of the gas-ban law.