By Sheriff Carmine Marceno
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District, gas stations, repair shops and ATV dealerships are taking a proactive approach to protect and preserve our residents, waterways and public lands through operation “Educate, Redirect and Enforce”. As your sheriff, my first goal is to educate riders on the laws of riding ATV’s, and take enforcement action only when required.
Why “Educate, Redirect and Enforce”?
All-terrain Vehicles (ATVs) can be very dangerous because they have an inherent flaw in their design. These vehicles lack lateral stability and crush protection, resulting in the ATV rolling over on its rider. When this happens, the rider can have significant, life-changing injuries or even lose their life.
According to crash statistics, over 600 Floridians have died in ATV accidents from 1982 to 2017 – the sixth-highest in the country. Nationally, approximately 135,000 people are injured every year due to ATV accidents. Over 700 people are killed in these accidents every year. The driver involved in an ATV crash, resulting in injury or death, may be held liable under Florida State law.
An ATV is designated as any motorized off-highway vehicle, that is 50 inches or less in width and under 1,500 pounds in weight, travels on three or more non-highway tires, and is designed for recreational use by a single operator and no passenger. There is also a side-by-side ATV manufactured, which is an ATV specifically designed by the manufacturer to carry a passenger.
ATV’s may not be legally operated upon Lee County public roads, streets or highways, except as otherwise permitted.
Any person who operates a motor vehicle on lands owned by the state or its agency shall be civilly liable for the actual damage to the lands by reason of his or her wrongful act, which damages may be recovered by suit and when collected, shall go to the state or its agency to be used to restore or replace the damaged property.
Florida State Statute 375.314 states that any person who operates a motor vehicle on land owned by Lee County, the state or its agencies, shall be civilly liable for damages and is guilty of a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or six months probation and a $500 fine.
No person under 16 years of age may operate or ride an all-terrain vehicle unless the person wears a safety helmet, eye protection and also must be under the supervision of an adult.
In an effort to provide riders an alternative to operating on public roadways, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is referring riders to local ATV parks to utilize areas of legal operation:
- Florida Cycle Park- Okeechobee
- Florida Tracks and Trails- Punta Gorda
- 74 MX & Off road- Punta Gorda
- Lazy Springs- Felda
- Redneck Mud Park- Punta Gorda
We’re asking for your assistance! If you see someone unlawfully riding an ATV, please call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number at 239-477-1000 for or 911 for emergencies.
For more information regarding ATVs, please visit the link below: https://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Recreation/Off-Highway-Vehicles-OHV/OHV-Safety