Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 6:36pm

It’s designed to protect our children, but a new law is hitting people who sell four-wheelers where it hurts, in the pocketbook.

Retailers across the country have already pulled millions of children’s toys, clothing, and furniture from their shelves. A strict federal law establishes standards for lead content in products intended fro children 21 years and younger. Now, business owners like Sammy Maggio will have to yank a handful of youth oriented motorcycles and ATV’s from their showroom floors. “Business is bad already, we don’t need anything to hurt it anymore than it already is.”

Maggio runs False River Motorsports in New Roads. He believes concern that children could be poisoned by the lead used to make these off-road vehicles has been blown out of proportion. “I don’t know any kid that has gotten cancer from riding a four-wheeler from lead and paint.”

He says the new restrictions hurt not only his sales but a favorite pastime for people in communities. “People bring their kids up in this sport to keep them off of the streets. It’s something for parents to do with their children.”

The law also prohibits the sale of replacement parts and accessories intended for these vehicles and it prevents businesses from doing repair work on them. Violators could face serious civil and even criminal penalties. “If somebody came in here to buy their kid a helmet that is in that classification, technically we can’t sell them that either.”

Dealers across the country are seeking exemption for these banned vehicles. So, until anything changes Maggio says he’ll be stuck with paying interest on over a dozen units. “It’s kind of ridiculous to think kids can’t ride motorcycles anymore.”

The new restrictions on ATV sales went into effect last Tuesdays. Dealers had several months to prepare.