How Buffalo seized 33 ATVs and dirt bikes with $100 rewards and a new law

(Picture from Buffalo News)

In the first two and a half weeks of a crackdown on ATVs and dirt bikes in the City of Buffalo, police have seized 33 vehicles, Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said Wednesday.  Driving an ATV or dirt bike on the city streets or city parks is illegal and in February, following complaints from the public about swarms of such vehicles being driven around, the city passed an ordinance making it a $2,500 fine. Police can also impound the vehicles.  Late last month, police announced a new initiative aimed at driving home the point: You can now get a $100 reward for calling in a tip that leads to an illegal vehicle being confiscated. "We're starting to get tips," Rinaldo said. "We've made multiple seizures and we've been issuing multiple summonses."  Here's how the ATV crackdown works.

What's the problem?

Last summer amid the pandemic, the city saw a spike in people riding ATVs and dirt bikes, often in packs, throughout the city, including main roads such as Niagara Street and Bailey Avenue. Some riders performed stunts, like wheelies, with the vehicles.  You cannot legally drive an ATV or motorized dirt bike on the streets of Buffalo, although you can own one and drive one in your own backyard. You can also tow such a vehicle using a trailer to another location that allows such vehicles.

Reward for tips

Buffalo police are asking the public to call their confidential tip line at 716-847-2255 if they have information about an ATV or dirt bike in the city. "Maybe you know somebody who rides this thing often or you know they're going to be meeting up at a gas station, that kind of stuff," Rinaldo said.  A reward of $100 will be given if the tip leads to an illegal vehicle being impounded.  If you see the ATVs and dirt bikes on the road, police ask you to call 911.

Fines and tickets

It's expensive to get a confiscated vehicle back.  First, there's the $2,500 fine for driving an ATV or dirt bike on a city street or in a city park. Then there is an impound fee for the vehicle – $125. There's also a daily $40 charge for storing the vehicle in the lot.  There are also vehicle and traffic tickets that can be issued. That can easily add several hundred more dollars and possible even criminal charges, depending on how the vehicle was being operated.  You will have to also show proof of ownership to get the vehicle back.

ATVs and dirt bikes that aren't claimed within 30 days will be destroyed, Rinaldo said.