Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham proposed new fines for those operating off-road vehicles in the City of Binghamton amid concerns of excessive noise and public safety.

The law will revise penalties for those illegally using off-road vehicles in the city. Instead of just “a slap on the wrist,” police officers can now impound offending vehicle, impose $1,000 fines and issue a $2,000 redemption fee to re-obtain the vehicle.

The mayor’s initiative is inspired by a similar law enacted a few years ago in Syracuse, which has seen success according to local law enforcement.

“I had been hearing from residents, specifically residents of Mary Street on Binghamton’s South Side,” Kraham said. “They have been dealing with increased amounts of off-road vehicles being driven on neighborhood streets, in backyards, [running] rampant throughout the neighborhood. So we looked at effective other municipalities that had adopted changes or cracked down on off-road vehicles.”

The mayor addressed public safety concerns, referencing a June 2023 accident where a young man was ejected from a dirt bike after illegally operating it, sustaining critical injuries. Many operating these vehicles in Binghamton weave in and out of traffic and through backyards, posing additional safety risks to themselves and others. Kraham said the law will have no impact on local off-roading businesses and recreational activities in the area.

“This law is not about curbing individuals using off-road vehicles in environments that they are supposed to,” Kraham said. “I acknowledge that people use these as recreational vehicles, and that’s absolutely what they should be used for. They should not be driven on neighborhood streets in the city.”

He added that there are designated off-roading areas within the Greater Binghamton area, where people can still enjoy their hobby legally, including the Town of Binghamton — a separate entity from the city that contains more acreage and offers room for people to appropriately operate these vehicles. Kraham explained that people can use these vehicles outside of the city, and residents interested in off-roading “know better than to dangerously ride their vehicles on city streets.”

Kraham clarified that “riding a four-wheeler or dirt bike on city streets is already, currently illegal under the state vehicle and traffic law.” The proposed legislation provides further incentive to discourage and dissuade repeat offenders who have not received punishment for their continued illegal actions. He has not heard about any concerns or opposition raised by residents or stakeholders regarding the new regulations.

“That’s why [we] have the public hearing,” Kraham said. “That’s a part of the process [in] the announcement of the law … but we are pretty firm and have done our research that this is an effective law that works, and we welcome any input.”