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Wilmington Police Department
Wednesday April 17th, 2019 :: 09:03 a.m. EDT


Wilmington Police remind public about City’s new law addressing illegal dirt bike, ATV riding in City

The Wilmington Police Department is reminding the public about State and City laws regulating the illegal use of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), including a new local ordinance passed by the Wilmington City Council in July.
State law previously defined “off-highway vehicles” as including dirt bikes and ATVs, and registration with the State is required.
On July 12, 2018, City Council passed Ordinance 18-040 (, which adopted the State’s definition and set forth further regulations, which are excerpted here:

  1. Use and possession.
    1. Driving or riding vehicle.
      1. Pursuant to 21 Del. C. § 6814(a), no person may drive or ride any OHV on any public street, sidewalk, or right-of-way that is located in the city or, wherever located, that is owned or regulated by the city.
      2. Pursuant to 21 Del. C. § 6821(a), no person may drive or ride an OHV on public or private property without express permission of the owner of the property.
    2. Possessing unregistered vehicle. No person may own, control, possess, or have custody of any OHV that is not registered with the state pursuant to 21 Del. C. § 6801.
    3. Possessing mobilized vehicle. No person may own, control, possess, or have custody of any OHV in the city, while the OHV is not being used in accordance with state law, unless the vehicle is securely locked or otherwise immobilized by a wheel clamp or other object, device, method, or mechanism, whether attached to the vehicle or not, that:
      1. Prevents the vehicle from being freely moved; and
      2. Cannot be removed or deactivated without the assistance of the vehicle's owner.
The City ordinance also set forth penalties for violations of those provisions:
  1. Penalties.
    1. Civil penalty. Any person who violates any provision of this section is subject to a civil fine of $2,000.00 in addition to any other penalty issued pursuant to this chapter.
      1. Any owner to whom a penalty is issued may, within 48 hours of being fined, agree to forfeit the vehicle in lieu of contesting the violation and in lieu of any other fines or penalties.
      2. It should be considered a mitigating factor during judicial proceedings if an individual charged under this Section, and who has contested such charge, can provide proof that, after the time of a violation, the vehicle in question has since been properly registered and an appropriate immobilization device and transportation mechanism have been secured in order to ensure future compliance with this section.
    2. Confiscate. In addition to any civil fines a police officer may issue pursuant to this section, whenever a police officer has probable cause to believe that an OHV is being used in violation of this section and either the OHV is not registered or the OHV does not bear a valid registration decal pursuant to state law, the officer may confiscate the OHV, whereupon the police department shall comply with the provisions of this chapter.
The Wilmington Police Department will be enforcing this ordinance, along with all relevant State laws governing off-highway vehicles and motor vehicles generally.
Council Member Robert A. Williams (7th District) was the principal sponsor of the legislation.
“This illegal activity creates a quality-of-life issue for the citizens and motorists of the City,” said Council Member Williams. “This ordinance was borne out of a concern for the safety of the public, and for the riders. It was approved by Council, and I support the enforcement efforts of the Wilmington Police Department.”
Inspector Charles Emory, who oversees the Uniformed Services Division and patrol operations, emphasized the safety issues presented by illegal dirt bike and ATV operation, particularly in a city environment.
“In past years, we have sadly witnessed serious accidents and even a fatality in Wilmington resulting from the illegal and unsafe riding of dirt bikes and ATVs,” said Inspector Emory. “We have historically seen increased activity in the warmer months, and we will continue to educate the public about these provisions."
Chief Robert J. Tracy said the department will continue to remind the community about these regulations.
“We have had public discussions about these new regulations, and our captains and patrol officers will be sharing this message at community meetings to ensure that we spread the word and remind the public about this law,” said Chief Tracy. “City Council has taken legislative action to help address this issue, and now the Wilmington Police Department will do its part to enforce these laws and work to ensure public safety for all of our residents and visitors.”

Wilmington Police Department
300 North Walnut Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

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