12/30/10 — Law enforcement responds to rash of ATV complaints

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Law enforcement responds to rash of ATV complaints

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on December 30, 2010 1:46 PM

An all-terrain vehicle operator driving on a public street reportedly attempted to flee from police Monday after an officer directed him to stop.

A short chase ensued on Buck Swamp Road when Officer Pat Carcirieri ordered ATV operator Kelby John Worley, 21, of Mallie Drive in Pikeville to stop the vehicle.

The brief chase lasted about a mile and a half and took only about a minute and a half, Goldsboro Police Department Maj. of Operations Mike West said. Worley then stopped the ATV.

Police arrested Worley on charges of felony fleeing to elude police, careless and reckless driving and operating an ATV on a public street or roadway.

Worley was held under a $2,500 bond. The ATV was impounded.

Although fleeing to elude police is usually a misdemeanor charge, Worley was charged with a felony due to the two additional aggravating charges filed against him, West said.

The incident was one of several involving ATVs this weekend as police stopped drivers from operating their vehicles on public streets. The number of incidents was higher than usual, probably due to people wanting to ride their vehicles in the snow, West said.

Two other drivers in separate locations were stopped Monday and charged with operating their ATVs on public roads. It is illegal in North Carolina to operate ATVs or golf carts on public roadways.

ATVs can be modified to increase the vehicle's top speed to as much as 70 or 80 miles an hour, West said. Worley was reportedly traveling at least 15 miles an hour over the speed limit, which is posted at 45 miles an hour on that section of Buck Swamp Road, according to Sheriff's Office reports.

There is no speed limit for driving an ATV off-road on private property. However, if an ATV operator is caught illegally operating an ATV in the road, the driver can be charged with speeding if they break the posted speed limit, West said.

A juvenile was also stopped Monday on Trey Drive for reportedly riding a four-wheeler in the road and for not wearing a helmet. The vehicles are popular with teenagers because a license is not required to operate one, but there are still laws regulating who can drive an ATV.

Under state law, no child under 8 years old may operate an ATV. A child 8-12 years old can legally operate an ATV with an engine less than 70 cubic centimeter displacement (70 cc), while 12 to 16-year-olds may operate an ATV with an engine less than 90 cubic centimeter displacement (90 cc). All operators 16 and under must be continuously visually supervised by someone 18 years old or older and wear a helmet while operating the ATV.

All ATV operators, regardless of age, are required to wear helmets, West said.

Police have also had reports of ATV operators damaging property and operating their vehicles recklessly in the Buck Swamp area subdivisions.

"When they ride on the snow, they want to do doughnuts. It has a tendency to run up people's yards and damage the dirt," West said.

Speeding in snowy conditions like the ones the county experienced this weekend presents a danger to drivers and those around them, he said.

"Basically you're operating a motor vehicle without regard for other people's safety or your own safety, without regard for speed or conditions," West said.

There have been multiple fatal ATV accidents in Wayne County over the last several years. Two area teenagers died in ATV-related accidents in Wayne County in the past two years. Joshua Dylan Horne, 16, of Lexington, died in August after crashing his ATV. Ryan Kornegay, 17, of Snow Hill died in October of 2009 in an ATV accident. Allen Burnette, 54, of Bailey died in September 2008 after being ejected from his ATV.

The Goldsboro Police Department issued a press release reminding the public that it is a violation of state law to operate ATVs or golf carts on city streets and state roadways.