Opting Out New ATV Law?

Four-wheel riders will finally get the run of the land, legally, but local county officials want to be excluded from the law allowing them to do so.

Under a new Florida law, folks can now drive all terrain vehicles on dirt roads. But the privilege may not last long for Suwannee County Riders because commissioners there want to opt out.

The biggest objection is concerns over safety.

"The majority of all the people that are saying no are people that have grown up riding them themselves and their families have grown up riding them, so I don't think it's a very good point of view for them to be looking at it that way,” explained Hudson Dykes, a regular ATV rider.

The legislation allows licensed drivers and underage youth with supervision to operate ATVs on dirt roads with a speed limit of less than 35 miles per hour.

"My kids, myself, I don't allow ATVs because I think they're dangerous. They need to be under some supervision on ATVs. Several people I know have been injured,” said Suwannee County parent Tony Lane.

Aside from safety concerns, law enforcement officials say if the county does not opt out, it would be difficult to enforce the new rule among Suwannee County's 850 miles of dirt roads.

"I've had wrecks, spills, broken bones and stuff. But that just comes with the territory, really,” said Dykes.

Suwannee County commissioners say dirt roads where all terrain vehicles frequent tend to require more maintenance. Therefore, opting out of the new law, they say, will also save taxpayers money.

There will be a public hearing on the issue on Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at Live Oak City Hall.