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Sheriff's Department meets with City Council to discuss OHRV issues

December 05, 2018
BERLIN — Two officers representing the Cos County Sheriff's Department met with the City Council last Monday at a meeting and discussed several concerns with OHRV use in the county.

The two officers, Wayne Saunders, who is the officer in charge of ATV law enforcement and education, as well as Sheriff Keith Roberge, met with the council to determine if current laws in the county need to be re-written.

In the first part of the discussion, it was mentioned that different towns/cities in the county have different rules which make it difficult for law enforcement agencies, as well as riders, to follow, so the goal is to make rules more consistent throughout the county. Saunders noted that while they can enforce state and county rules and laws, they cannot enforce local ordinances.

A list of questions for all communities within the county is being devised. the first suggestion is to make the opening date on the Friday before Memorial Day instead of May 23. Saunders said certain landowners would not be open to the May 23 date. Mayor Paul Grenier said the city would lose a week of riding. The hours of operation differ among communities.

Most towns have a curfew set at a half hour before sunset but Berlin's curfew is 10 p.m. Saunders suggested a 9 p.m. curfew. Grenier suggested an exception during festivals. Saunders said the Department of Transportation would then need to extend their permits beyond 9 p.m.

Councilor Lucille Remillard asked if mandated directional lights on OHRV's and Saunders said that the lights would add safety and that, more than likely, the DOT "would agree to extend a permit beyond 9 p.m."

Though the kits for directional lights are not too expensive, Grenier noted that it is "give and take and this may be a place where it's a price to pay for riding."

Also, posted speed limits on roads and state highways vary in different parts of the county. ATV's go too slow in certain situations. In Berlin, riders ride with traffic on the roads. Other communities do not find it favorable to make speed limits for traffic consistent with OHRV's.

Current law allows open containers of alcohol while the vehicles are in motion -- it is proposed to change this law and forbid open containers on vehicles in motion.

Also, the age of operating OHRV's are different in communities within the county. Police Chief Peter Morency noted that the change in the ordinance to make 21 the age to supervise "has reduced problems by 25 percent, and makes a big difference."

One consideration is to increase fines for offenses. Most offenses are unregistered vehicles and no landowner permission.

Martin Lord Osman
North Country Environmental
Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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