Gardaí will be given new powers to seize scrambler and quad bikes under legislation approved by Cabinet today.
Amendments to the upcoming Road Traffic Bill will make it an offence to use the off-road vehicles in areas previously not covered by road traffic legislation, such as waste ground, public parks, beaches and green areas.
Under the legislation, use of the vehicles will now be prohibited on both public and private land, except in cases where there is permission from the landowner.
Officers will be able to seize the vehicles if they were used in prohibited areas and remove them from people's homes with use of a warrant.
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said the new legislation hopes to “reduce the risks of death and serious injury” linked to the vehicles.
“I am determined to stop the misuse of quads, scramblers and similar vehicles, by making it an offence to use them in areas such as waste ground, parks and other places which were not covered by road traffic legislation up to now,” he said.
Minister Hildegarde Naughton said the measures would enable gardaí to seize vehicles “used in a manner which puts members of the public – and indeed often the riders themselves – at risk.”
“It is already an offence to supply an mechanically propelled vehicle (MPV) to a minor, whether by sale, lending, gifting, or renting,” Minister Naughton said.
“The offence carries a penalty of a fine of up to €5,000 and/or up to six months in prison.
“I would urge parents, family members or friends who are considering gifting a scrambler to please reconsider their choice of gift; sadly, our experience to date has been one resulting in serious long-term or fatal injury.”
It is hoped the new measures will “educate young people and their parents away from considering scramblers and quads to be harmless toys”, and make them aware of serious legal and safety consequences, the Department of Transport said.
It comes as Motorcycles Ireland has said enough has not been done to prevent the increased anti-social use of scramblers and quads in housing estates.
In addition to the new legislation, an interdepartmental group chaired by the Department of Justice has been set up to examine misuse of the vehicles.
Minister of State for Law Reform, TD James Browne, said he had convened a special meeting of a subgroup of the Forum on Anti-Social Behaviour last week to “consider community-based approaches” to address the misuse of the vehicles.
The group will present practical proposals for Government consideration within four weeks, Mr Browne said.
Calls have been made for dedicated tracks to be set up, in order to create a safer environment for people to use the vehicles.
Damien Gavin, lead facilitator of the Moyross Youth Motocross Club in Limerick, said there needed to be “an incentive to keep the young people out of trouble.”
“It’s imperative that we get something in the community that the lads can have access to, that we can do in a regulated way that takes the young people off the streets and into a safe environment,” he said.
“What we need to do is we need to start working with the kids from the community, not against them.”