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A dirt bike race in 2017. (Photo: Youtube)

Off-Road Competition Motorcycles, ATVs Face Major Changes in New Bill

SB 1024 adds tighter regulations, mandatory noise reductions

By Evan Symon, June 4, 2020 2:40 pm

On Wednesday, a competition motorcycle and ATV bill that would add numerous regulations to off-road and racing events on public land was given a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing date of June 9th.

Senate Bill 1024, written by Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee), would change vehicle exemptions for competition off-highway vehicles, namely competition racing motorcycles such as dirt bikes and ATVs.

The current California Air Resources Board Red Sticker program for such vehicles would be replaced by a Competition Sticker program rub by California State Parks.  Under the Competition Sticker, ATVs would have to have such a sticker, competition motorcycles would not have to have identification as such, and a heightened fee for Department of Motor Vehicles  and California Highway Patrol costs would be imposed.

The use of competition motorcycles and ATVs on public lands would also be more restricted, with operators requiring a competition card and their vehicle having an off-highway ID. All competition motorcycles and ATVs would also need mandatory spark arresters, mufflers, or silencers to limit noise when on public lands.

Although SB 1024 didn’t specify punishment for failing to meet the new standards, a fine by state or local authorities would be the most likely option.

Senator Jones wrote the bill in an effort to save the off-road vehicle competition industry in California. The CARB Red Sticker program is due to expire in 2021 with no replacement, meaning that public lands would be off-limits to these vehicles starting in 2022. By adding a new program, and increasing regulations to nullify common complaints such as off-road vehicles being too noisy.

Senator Brian Jones. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

“In order to save a beloved sport with a long history in California, SB 1024 creates a Competition Sticker program to replace the Red Sticker. This new program has been crafted in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including the affected government agencies and the off-highway vehicle community. I look forward to continuing this collaboration as we finalize the details of the bill,” Senator Jones said in a press release.

In addition to support from law enforcement and off-road groups, local residents who live next to public land and visitors who go to such areas are also happy with SB 1024.

“Peaceful views and quiet are often ruined by these kids on dirt bikes revving up their engines and ruining the hike or picnic or what-have-you for everyone,” said Barbara Schaeffer, whose house is next to public land nearby the Salton Sea in Southern California. “This also means we’ll see less of them and that police can finally do something about the noise.”

“I’m all for it and so many others that I know of are for it too.”

SB 1024 was passed by the unanimous vote of 13-0 in the Senate Transportation Committee hearing on May 29th and is expected to have a similar vote in the Appropriations Committee next week.

Evan Symon
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