Letter to the Community

dirtbike

I would like to address the community regarding the youth and their usage of off-road vehicles such as dirt bikes and quads. As I am compassionate to the use of these enjoyable vehicles and the limited choices for our youth; I cannot condone the expedited speed, negligent and reckless driving as these youth continue to speed down major thoroughfares, ride wheelies, pass in no passing areas causing dangerous situations and the feeling of terrorizing community members. I have contacted parents and some of the youth about the issue. I have not been able to get the full response needed even with the understanding of the potential of their vehicles being towed.

I would like to show the current municipal code that allows for some off-road vehicles to use the roadway.

10.35.010 Definitions.Share

(1) “Highway” shall mean, as currently found within RCW 46.09.130 as currently provided herein or as may be amended by the state in the future, the entire width between the boundary lines of every roadway publicly maintained by the State Department of Transportation or any county or city with funding from the motor vehicle fund. A highway is generally capable of travel by a conventional two-wheel-drive passenger automobile during most of the year and in use by such vehicles.

(2) “Non-highway road” shall mean, as currently found within RCW 46.09.130 as currently provided herein or as may be amended by the state in the future, any road owned or managed by a public agency, a primitive road, or any private road for which the owner has granted an easement for public use for which appropriations from the motor vehicle fund were not used for:

(a) Original construction or reconstruction in the last 25 years; or (b) Maintenance in the last four years.

(3) “Operator” shall mean any individual who uses, or is in physical control of, any WATV.

(4) “Wheeled all-terrain vehicle (WATV)” shall mean, as currently found within RCW 46.09.310 as currently provided herein or as may be amended by the state in the future:

(a) Any motorized non-highway vehicle with handlebars that is 50 inches or less in width, has a seat height of at least 20 inches, weighs less than 1,500 pounds, and has four tires having a diameter of 30 inches or less; or

(b) A utility-type vehicle designed for and capable of travel over designated roads that travels on four or more low-pressure tires of 20 psi or less, has a maximum width less than 74 inches, has a maximum weight less than 2,000 pounds, has a wheelbase of 110 inches or less, and satisfies at least one of the following:

(i) Has a minimum width of 50 inches;(ii) Has a minimum weight of at least 900 pounds; or (iii) Has a wheelbase of over 61 inches;

(c) To be a WATV that may be operated in the city under the authorization found herein, said WATV must also be:

(i) Registered with the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) and have secured on the WATV the DOL issued metal license plate and necessary DOL registrations, decals, and/or tabs with said tabs being affixed in the proper location as set by Washington State regulations;(ii) Equipped and compliant with all Washington State requirements for WATV equipment as noted herein, and as found within RCW 46.09.457; and (iii) Documented to have completed the mandatory safety inspections, with the certification of said inspections on file, required by state law; and

(d) The following are not approved as WATVs:

(i) Rails;(ii) Go carts;(iii) Homemade unlicensed vehicles;(iv) Rally cars; or(v) Golf carts. (Ord. 617 § 2, 2015)

10.35.020 Roads on which an operator may utilize WATVs.Share

An operator of a WATV may utilize all highways, non-highway roads, streets, and alleys with speed limits posted at 35 miles per hour or less. As such, SR 101/Forks Avenue north of the northern terminus of Olympic Drive, and SR 101/Forks Avenue south of Mill Creek, are not highways or streets open to WATV use. (Ord. 617 § 3, 2015)

10.35.030 Requirements of WATV operator.Share

To legally utilize a WATV as permitted by this chapter, the operator must:

(1) Ensure that the WATV is equipped as required by Washington State regulations, as currently found within RCW 46.09.457 as currently provided herein or as may be amended by the state in the future, to include:(a) Headlights meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.030 and 46.37.040 and used at all times when the vehicle is in motion upon a highway;(b) One tail lamp meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.525 and used at all times when the vehicle is in motion upon a highway; however, a utility-type vehicle, as described under RCW 46.09.310, must have two tail lamps meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.070(1) and to be used at all times when the vehicle is in motion upon a highway;(c) A stop lamp meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.200;(d) Reflectors meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.060;(e) During hours of darkness, as defined in RCW 46.04.200, turn signals meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.200. Outside of hours of darkness, the operator must comply with RCW 46.37.200 or 46.61.310;(f) A mirror attached to either the right or left handlebar, which must be located to give the operator a complete view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of the vehicle; however, a utility-type vehicle, as described under RCW 46.09.310(19), must have two mirrors meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.400;(g) A windshield meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.430, unless the operator wears glasses, goggles, or a face shield while operating the vehicle, of a type conforming to rules adopted by the Washington State Patrol;(h) A horn or warning device meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.380;(i) Brakes in working order;(j) A spark arrester and muffling device meeting the requirements of RCW 46.09.470; and(k) For utility-type vehicles, as described under RCW 46.09.310(19), seat belts meeting the requirements of RCW 46.37.510;

(2) Be at least 16 years of age and possess a current valid driver’s license as defined within Chapter 46.20 RCW;

(3) Have filed a release verified by DOL that releases the state, and its political subdivisions, from any liability with such a release outlining the owner and/or operator’s understanding that the original WATV was not manufactured for on-road use and has been modified for use on public roadways, unless such a requirement is addressed in Chapter 46.09 RCW, making such a release no longer necessary;

(4) Carry the WATV’s registration on their person or on/in the vehicle at all times during operation;

(5) Wear a Department of Transportation approved helmet fastened securely to operator’s head while the WATV is in motion on public highways, non-highway roads, streets, and/or alleys, except for WATVs equipped with steering wheel, seat belts, roll bars and/or an enclosed passenger compartment per RCW 46.37.530(c); and

(6) Operate the WATV in compliance with all applicable traffic regulations, rules of the road, etc., as established by state law for WATVs and/or motorcycles. (Ord. 617 § 4, 2015)

10.35.040 Prohibited activities.Share

(1) Failure to comply with the requirements of operating a WATV on the public roadways of the city of Forks found herein shall be designated a traffic infraction, unless otherwise stated, and shall be governed by Washington State law with said laws prescribing the applicable punishment.

(2) No operator is permitted to use an all-terrain vehicle modified for WATV purposes to transport a minor passenger under the age of 18 years of age, unless properly equipped, to include seat belts, for transporting passengers. Violation of this subsection shall be a traffic infraction with a penalty of $125.00 imposed with court also imposing the applicable court costs associated with the filing of an infraction.

(3) No operator may pull any sled, toboggan, inner tube, or wagon, nor operate a WATV to pull such devices with a person thereon. Utilization of a trailer or similar device must be in compliance with all manufacturer’s guidelines and must include the use of a rigid tow bar connected to both the WATV and trailer. No person may be towed in such a trailer. Violation of this subsection shall be a traffic infraction with a penalty of $125.00 imposed with court also imposing the applicable court costs associated with the filing of an infraction. (Ord. 617 § 5, 2015)

10.35.050 Exemptions.Share

This chapter shall not apply to the following:

(1) An appropriate local, state, and/or federal agency that engages in emergency management, as defined by state law, or to those individuals associated with such agencies engaged in search and rescue operations as defined by state law, or law enforcement agencies, when the operation of any such vehicle is within the scope of the agency’s official duties.

(2) This chapter may be suspended while parades, authorized by the state of Washington in conjunction with the city of Forks, or any parades authorized by the city of Forks where the state of Washington’s permission is not required. (Ord. 617 § 6, 2015)

10.35.060 Civil liability.Share

In addition to the penalties provided within this chapter, the owner, operator, and/or parent/legal guardian of the owner or operator, if they are under 18, of any WATV traveling within the city limits found to have violated any provision of this chapter may be liable to the landowner for any damage to property or injury to persons or animals. Any injured person or owner of property or animals damaged or injured by a WATV may recover treble damages as well as costs, expenses and reasonable attorney’s fees, unless otherwise limited by state law. (Ord. 617 § 7, 2015)

After a review of this ordinance and speaking with other rural agencies, I have been advised to tow when possible and cite the parents of youth under the age of 16 for allowing them to operate a motor vehicle on the roadway without a license. The current infraction set by Washington State is $139. The Mayor and I do not wish to pursue towing and citing our local citizens however if a resolution does not present itself the Forks Police Department will be without options other than those presented.

Chief Mike Rowley

Forks Police Department

500 East Division Street

Forks, WA 98331

(360)374-2223 Ext 257