DNR lists new ATV/UTV laws

Close-up tail view of ATV quad bike. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds everyone to stay safe and to be courteous to others by following the new All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) laws passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone to stay safe and to be courteous to others by following the new All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) laws passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature.

The new laws affect passenger requirements, headlamps, operational requirements, vehicle legal definitions and more. The new laws took effect on March 4, 2020.

ATV/UTV riding is a growing sport in Wisconsin. In 2019, there were 149 non-fatal accidents involving ATVs and UTVs. Drinking or drugs, inexperience, vehicle speed and operator error were some of the top contributors to these incidents. There also were 22 fatal ATV/UTV accidents in 2019.

To keep this sport as safe as possible and reduce injuries and deaths, the DNR urges riders to follow these safety tips and these new updates to existing laws.

ATV Passenger Rules

• ATV operators cannot have a passenger riding in or on any part of an ATV that is not designed or intended to be used by passengers. Previously, this law only applied to roadways. After market seating does not comply with the law.

New ATV/UTV Legal Definitions

• For ATVs, low-pressure tires are no longer required; instead, the only requirement is three or more tires. ATVs are required to be commercially designed and manufactured and their width cannot exceed 50 inches as measured laterally between the outermost wheel rims on each side of the vehicle.

• For UTVs, low-pressure tires are also no longer required; instead, they must have four or more tires. UTVs must be originally manufactured with, and must have at all times, a width of not more than 65 inches as measured laterally between the outermost wheel rims on each side of the vehicle.

Lighted Headlamp Display Requirements

• ATVs and UTVs must now have a lighted headlamp and tail lamp during operation – regardless of time of day and location.

• No person (except emergency services personal) may operate an ATV or UTV that is equipped with any of the following: 1.) A lamp that emits a color other than white or amber and that is visible from directly in front of the vehicle. 2.) A lamp that emits any color of light other than red, yellow, amber or white and that is visible from directly behind the ATV or UTV. 3.) A flashing, oscillating or rotating lamp that emits any color other than yellow or amber.

• Any person operating an ATV or UTV must dim his or her high-beam headlamps and any auxiliary lamps when within 500 feet of an approaching ATV/UTV or vehicle, and within 500 feet to the rear of another ATV/UTV or vehicle.

Operational Requirements and Modification Restrictions

• ATVs and UTVs cannot be operated with anything else other than tires (exception: private property or frozen waters).

ATV and UTV operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 who are at least 12 years old for an ATV (and at least 16 years old for UTV) must complete an ATV safety certification course to operate in Wisconsin (exception: on private property owned by operator’s immediate family). DNR Conservation Wardens recommend all ATV and UTV operators complete a safety course.

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