ATV legislation may include registration

Published 12:06 am Sunday, January 31, 2010

NATCHEZ — If a state lawmaker has his way, owners of all-terrain vehicles may soon have to register their vehicles with the local sheriff’s office.

House Bill 6 was introduced by Rep. Willie J. Perkins Sr., D-Greenwood. If passed, the bill would require ATVs to be equipped with decals, giving people an easy means of identifying them if someone is causing a disruption on public roads.

In addition, the registration requirement would allow law enforcement officials easy access to ATV information in the event a vehicle is stolen.

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said he isn’t opposed to the law, but he isn’t sure why registration of an ATV would go through his office instead of the tax collector’s office.

The bill sets a one-time $10 registration fee. The sheriff’s office would send six of those dollars to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. The remaining $4 is to be turned over to the chancery clerk for deposit in the general fund of the county.

Travis Walters, the sales and finance manager at Natchez Powersports, which sells ATVs, said he understands the argument for such a bill.

“There is a lot of theft of these things. If (the bill is) to have a database of people who own them, then law enforcement agencies would have more to go by when trying to find them.”

Redneck Adventures’ Jim Allgood, who owns several ATVs, is a bit more skeptical of the bill, since ATVs cannot be legally used on public roads anyway.

“(Outdoorsmen) once again may be charged for something, and the ways don’t justify the means.”

Walters said there are already fees imposed on ATV buyers.

“We already have what’s called a Mississippi Trauma Tax ($50 at sale), which supposedly goes toward a state attorney that does research on ATV and motorcycle accidents,” Walters said. “We have to collect it, but we don’t really know where it goes.”

There is one key to the bill that makes people uneasy. If it passes, all registered information on ATVs, including where the vehicle is usually stored, would become public record as required by the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983.

“That’s atrocious, if true,” Walters said. “That should not be public record. That should be an inter-departmental thing kept confidential. You’re giving thieves a list of potential theft targets.

“That’s like putting a Kicker car stereo sticker on your vehicle. You’re advertising the fact that your car has a stereo system.”

The bill has been sent to the transportation committee of the Mississippi legislature. It would have to survive committee, be passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor to become law.