Dirt Bikes and Senate Bill 39


By Courtney Harrison



WILLIAMSON – On June 15, a Senate Bill takes effect that gives counties and municipalities within the Hatfield-McCoy Recreation Area the option to permit and regulate the use of off road motorcycles on public streets, roads and highways.

Senate Bill 39 was introduced on January 13, 2016 and was passed on May 13, 2016 during the 2016 regular session of the West Virginia Legislature. The bill impacts West Virginia Code 17F-1-3 “relating to authorization and regulation of unlicensed off- road motorcycles upon public streets, roads and highways by municipalities and counties within the Hatfield-McCoy Recreation area.”

Currently, counties and municipalities within the recreation area are already authorized to permit and regulate the use of all- terrain vehicles (ATVs), but not off road motorcycles. Senate Bill 39 allows local governments in the recreation area to allow or prohibit off road motorcycles provided that the vehicle is properly permitted by the Hatfield and McCoy Recreation Authority and being used to travel to and from a Hatfield-McCoy trailhead for fuel, service, food or lodging.

Article one concerning the regulation of ATVs by local government states that, “the governing body of a municipality pay regulate in any manner or prohibit by lawfully enacted ordinance, the operation of ATVs upon any street, road, or avenue within the municipal corporate limits.”

The regulation of ATVs also extends to homeowner associations. Article one explains that homeowner associations may petition the commission for an ordinance allowing or prohibiting the use of off road vehicles. Article one section two states, “homeowner associations may petition the county commission of the county in which the area regulated by the homeowner association is located for an ordinance to regulate or prohibit the operation of ATVs upon any street, road or avenue within the area regulated by the homeowner association.”

Senate Bill 39 grants county commissions the option to enact ordinances related to off road vehicles on any road except interstate highways. The commission is also required to notify law enforcement agencies and provide a copy of the ordinance. Article one section five states, “The county commission of a county participating in the Hatfield-McCoy recreational trail project may regulate in any manner the use of unlicensed off- road motorcycles operated in compliance with legislative rules promulgated by the Hatfield- McCoy Regional Recreation Authority when traveling to and from a Hatfield- McCoy trailhead to a place for fuel, service, food or lodging on any road in the county, except interstate highways provided, that any county which enacts such ordinance shall notify the West Virginia State Police (WVSP) and all law- enforcement agencies in the county of its action in writing, together with a copy of the ordinance.”

Sgt. Cane with the Welch Detachment of the WVSP discussed Senate Bill 39 stating, “It’s complicated. Sometimes people assume that this includes the use of any ATV on any roadway but it is only allowed on small sections to get from place to place. Senate Bill 39 is the state giving commissions and municipalities the option to pass an ordinance to permit or regulate the use of off road vehicles.”

More information on Senate Bill 39 can be found by visiting www.legis.state.wv.us.

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By Courtney Harrison

(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)

(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)

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