Hendry County reminds residents: Off-road vehicles are illegal

Posted at 12:38 AM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-26 06:47:09-04

LABELLE, Fla. — Shaquwan George clearly takes good care of his side by side. He says riding it is one of his favorite things to do.

“This is what we do here in Labelle,” George says.

But, that changed last Friday. “I got pulled over.”

Hendry County deputies seem to be cracking down on vehicles like George's.

He says he was pulled over while riding again last Saturday, too. He said deputies advised him to not ride near Port Labelle. But, George says they also told him that it was okay to ride in the grass further away from that community. He was not cited.

But, he did share his experiences on Facebook, and his post was full of comments.

Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden weighed in on the Facebook thread, too. What he said stunned many, including Shaquwan George.

Whidden cited a resolution from 2007 in which the county rejected a Florida statue to allow ATVs on unpaved public roads. It also says the operation of ATVs on public roads or on the streets of the county is prohibited.

But, what about other grassy areas? The sheriff’s office says most of those are that are not privately owned belong to the county, and therefore it is still illegal.

Hendry County Sheriff's Office says it’s about safety - issuing this statement: “People who own these vehicles are most times safety conscious, but sometimes…they forget and mix these vehicles with alcohol or drugs. Other times, they allow younger children to ride them. It’s all about the fun, until they hit a hole in the ground, a ditch they didn’t see or unleveled ground…drive out in front of a car, or truck, or worse yet…crash.”

But, Shaquwan George says he’s confused. “He (a deputy) never told me it’s illegal to ride. Never.”

He says he’s not mad at the department. He just wishes deputies would have told him it was illegal. Neighbors in the area told FOX 4 that the ATV’s don’t bother them too much, but they’re thankful for the safety crackdown.

The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office says people can ride on private property, but with permission from the owner.

Glades County also issued a statement Monday saying that it prohibits the use of dirt bikes, mini bikes, ATVs and on public roadways.