St. John Valley

Madawaska Police Department responds to ATV concerns

MADAWASKA, Maine — Madawaska Police Department urged All Terrain Vehicle drivers on Tuesday to follow Maine ATV and traffic laws.

 

“A few years ago, we decided that we would use discretion and take a more relaxed approach to ATVs using our public ways,” Lt. Jamie Pelletier wrote in a Facebook post. “Not because we are lazy or that we feel ATV / traffic laws are unimportant, but because we felt that ATV-ers should be able to access our local businesses, such as restaurants and gas stations without having to worry about getting stopped by the police when they are traveling through.”

However, Pelletier said that officers are seeing people using their ATVs as a primary means of transportation to run errands such as grocery shopping or visiting friends. He even added that some people go “just to take a spin around town and down Main Street.” 

This kind of use defeats the purpose of allowing ATVS on roadways to support local businesses, he said.

Pelletier said there are two types of travel: prudent and imprudent. Whereas a person who were to drive slow, to the right of the public way and stop at stop signs would be considered prudent, those who speed, travel in the roadway and do not follow stop signs would be considered imprudent. 

The department has seen both kinds of travel among local ATVers. 

The post goes on to remind ATVers that the ATV does not meet the state’s safety standards for motor vehicles to drive on the road. 

“This means ATVs are not as safe as cars,” Pelletier said. “We do not need a thing called ‘Reasonable Articulable Suspicion’ or ‘Probable Cause’ to stop you while you are operating your ATV on a public way. The fact that you are operating on a public way is a violation of Maine law.”

Pelletier said the officers will stop ATVs to determine whether the machines are being operated lawfully within town, whether by residents or visitors. 

“The fact that we have been relaxed about enforcement has been a privilege extended for the sole purpose of supporting local businesses,” Pelletier said. “It is not your right to operate your ATV wherever and however you want.”

The post went on to say that while the department would still like to support local businesses, they need to “listen and act” on the concerns and complaints of the residents. 

“For those who think laws and rules don’t apply to them, you will be having a conversation with one of our fine young law enforcement officers and you will likely be leaving the conversation with a ‘souvenir,’ courtesy of the Madawaska PD,” the post read in closing. 

In this case, Pelletier said, the “souvenir” would be a ticket. 

The rules and regulations for ATV operation can be found at maine.gov.

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