September 20, 2010
AUGUSTA – Rep. Herbert Clark, D-Millinocket, has been appointed to serve on a work group tasked with examining the issue of law enforcement stops of all-terrain vehicles (ATV). Clark, who serves as House chair of the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, was appointed to the 16 member group that was formed by the governor after the legislature adopted new standards earlier this year for ATV stops.
"This has been a very difficult and controversial issue,” said Clark. “I hope that the work group can bring forward some recommendations on enforcement of the new law that protects the privacy of riders and addresses landowner concerns.”
Maine law requires that a person must have the permission of the landowner to operate an ATV on private property, except when there is a conspicuously posted ATV trail or in areas open to use by landowner policy.
Maine law also previously authorized law enforcement officers to stop and examine an ATV without reasonable suspicion that a violation had occurred, to ascertain whether it was being operated in compliance with certain laws and requirements.
The 124th Maine Legislature established a new standard governing ATV stops, bringing such stops more in line with other law enforcement stops. The new standard requires that law enforcement officials have a reasonable suspicion that a violation has occurred.
With the law change there has been some concern that landowners will restrict access to their property because law enforcement officers no longer have the authority to stop ATV riders without probable cause to ensure they are abiding by the law and have sought proper permission.
The goal of the work group is to gather information about law enforcement stops of ATV riders on private property and develop recommendations and a draft enforcement policy for how to promote safety, protect private property and ensure that any stops of ATV riders are done in accordance with constitutional protections. The work group may also propose legislation for the next legislative session necessary to alleviate any confusion around the law change.
The work group will present its recommendations to the governor by mid-December.
Jodi Quintero [Clark], 287-1433