ATV Law Changes

Wisconsin is often considered the big backyard of the Midwest. Every season, thousands of individuals from both in and out of state flock to Wisconsin to enjoy all the outdoor activities our state has to offer. To many, nothing says Wisconsin like firing up an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) or Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) and throwing a little mud and dirt around the backcountry. Accordingly, municipalities that have adopted the state statutes as they apply to ATVs and UTVs should be aware of some recent changes.

The law now allows more children to share in the sport. ATV operators under 12 years of age may now operate ATVs and UTVs on land under the management and control of a person who consents to the operation of an ATV or UTV as long as the child is accompanied by parent or guardian or by a person over the age of 18 who has been designated by the parent or guardian. Also, a person under 12 years of age may now operate a small ATV on DNR designated ATV trails if accompanied by their parent or guardian or a person over the age of 18 that has been designated by the child’s parent or guardian.

Additionally, changes have been made to ATV and UTV speed restrictions. No person may operate an ATV or UTV at speeds exceeding 10 miles per hour within 100 feet of another person who is not operating a motor vehicle, ATV, UTV, or snowmobile. This restriction does not apply to operation of an ATV or UTV on roadways designated as ATV routes, or while competing in a sanctioned race or derby.

Finally, changes to the safety requirements no longer require an ATV or UTV operator to hold a valid safety certificate at qualified, closed course, ATV or UTV demonstrations as long as the operator wears protective headgear. Demonstration events are ATV or UTV events sponsored by an ATV or UTV dealer or club, or by a municipality or the State of Wisconsin. If the operator is under 18 years old, they must also be accompanied by a parent or guardian or a person over 18 years old that has been designated by the child’s parent or guardian to participate in such demonstrations.

If your municipality has additional questions about the changes to Wisconsin ATV and UTV law or its application and enforcement, contact your municipal attorney.

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