Gunnison Valley Police Department
cracking down on ATV violators
By Robert Stevens
GUNNISON—A common complaint about kids driving ATVs irresponsibly on city streets is causing the Gunnison Valley Police Department (GVPD) to tighten up on pre-existing regulations.
“We have received a continual stream of complaints about kids driving off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and motorcycles on the streets,” the department wrote in a public social media post on Friday. “We recognize that in rural Utah there has generally been a slightly more relaxed policy on this issue, but this has become a continual problem and will no longer be the case.”
According to the GVPD Chief Brett McCall, both Gunnison and Centerfield already have laws and ordinances in place regulating ATVs/OHVs and how can kids can and can’t use them.
But even with these regulations in place, dozens of complaints have come in to the GVPD and the communities it polices.
McCall says the department is instituting a new system to enforce these issues without being too heavy handed.
“The problem is, if we just pulled a kid with no helmet over, there is a chance they might never even tell their parents about it,” McCall said.
With that in mind, the GVPD designed a system ensure youth caught breaking the rules while riding an ATV are required to inform their parents.
The department has a new form to fill out when an officer catches a minor breaking the rules on the books. The minor is required to have the parents come in to the GVPD station within five days of being pulled over. If the parents come in and address the issue, the parents become responsible for any discipline of the child may receive, and the police don’t issue a citation.
If the parents don’t come in to talk to the GVPD or if a kid repeatedly gets in trouble while riding, the infraction can be elevated to a juvenile citation, said McCall.
McCall said he regularly encounters parents whose attitude is, “What’s the big deal? Everyone else is doing it.”
But that’s the wrong attitude to have, he says.
The bottom line, McCall said, is the laws on the books say, helmet or not, unsupervised minors without a driver license cannot ride an ATV/OHV on any roads—be it Main Street or back streets.
“Parents need to be aware of the laws,” he said.
The social media announcement about needing to enforce the issue more strictly was met with a mixed bag of support and opposition on the GVPD Facebook page.
Scott Walker, a physician at Gunnison Valley Hospital posted, “Thank you! I see so many victims of ATV accidents in the (emergency room), and many times they are fairly young people, most of whom were not wearing helmets.”
Scott Stallard of Gunnison was less enthusiastic about the plan, saying, “Being free and having fun is what makes this place amazing. It’s turning more and more into California.”
The GVPD said anyone who disagrees with the plan needs to work with their respective cities to get changes made, since the GVPD doesn’t make laws, it only enforces the