Gas station workers in Atlantic City will face fines for pumping gas directly into dirt bikes and four-wheelers under a new law passed Wednesday.
The ordinance is an effort to crack down on dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles that officials say pose a danger to the public when illegally driven on city streets. It still allows workers, however, to pump gas into the vehicles if they feel threatened, but they must alert police within one hour of the riders leaving.
Workers are also allowed to pump gas into the vehicles if they are being hauled on a legal trailer.
“The whole idea is we just don’t want these motorcycles and ATVs coming to Atlantic City. We’re trying to make it as uncomfortable as possible for them to come to Atlantic City,” Atlantic City Police Department Acting Chief James Sarkos testified before Wednesday night’s vote.
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Gas stations that violate the ordinance would face fines of at least $500 dollars. Sarkos said the police department spoke with the owners or managers of the city’s five gas stations and got four of them to sign a declaration saying they support the ordinance. The fifth didn’t sign but gave verbal approval, he said.
Under the bill, the police department will provide signage so that employees who refuse to pump gas can point to them and tell riders that they are banned from pumping by order of the police, Sarkos said.
Councilman Bruce Weekes, one of the two dissenters in the 7-2 vote, expressed concern that the law lacks “teeth.” He pointed out that the law prohibits police officers from chasing dirt bikes and ATVs and noted that it will be difficult for police officers to know whether gas station employees call police after riders leave, both of which Sarkos acknowledged.
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However, the chief argued that while the ordinance will not completely stop the problem, it will help.
Council Vice President Kaleem Shabazz, who supported the measure, concurred and said the New Jersey Legislature is crafting legislation that will help give more enforcement “teeth” to a statewide problem. “I think this is a necessary step. It’s not the total answer. It’s a lot of answers that we have to look at, and as we speak the legislation is being worked on,” Shabazz said.