You may see more all-terrain vehicles on Kewaunee County roadways in the near future if the board approves a new ordinance Tuesday. Under the ordinance, the county would establish a template for towns to use when drawing up their own rules for ATV and UTV usage. It would also raise the age of drivers on public roads from 12 to 16, set a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour, and create restrictions on the hours of operation. Sheriff Matt Joski says the ordinance is designed to help keep things consistent county-wide for law enforcement.
The Kewaunee County Board will vote on the change during its meeting on Tuesday beginning at 6 p.m. at the administration center in Kewaunee. You can read Sheriff Joski’s explanation of the proposed ordinance online with this story. During the meeting, the board could also pledge its support for Senate Bill 137, which would award grants of up to $2,500 to eligible homeowners with private wells containing high nitrate levels.
FROM SHERIFF JOSKI
Over the past few months, many of the townships throughout Kewaunee County have been contacted by their constituents requesting the authorization to use ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) and UTVs (Utility Vehicles) on the public roads. These requests are not unusual and there are many areas throughout the state which do allow for use of public roads by these types of vehicles, however the presence of these vehicles co-mingled with regular vehicular traffic creates some concerns.
To begin, we should understand how the current state law applies to this subject. State Statute 23.33(11) as enacted under ACT 87 allows a Town Village or City to authorize the operation of ATVs/UTVs on their roads regardless of posted speed limit as well as state and county roads within their territorial boundaries that have posted speed limits of 35mph or less. What this means is that if a Town allows for the use of ATVs on their Town Roads, and either a State Highway or County Road which has a speed limit of 35mph or less runs through that Town, ATVs and UTVs would be allowed on those sections of road. However once that State or County Road’s speed limit goes above 35mph the use of it for ATVs and UTVs is prohibited.
While the prospect of allowing these types of vehicles on our public roads raised many concerns for me as Sheriff, the decision is not mine to make and the best that I can do is establish the most effective safety guidelines so as to minimize the potential for accidents and injury.
It was with this in mind that we established a workgroup comprised of Town Officials, County Officials, and DNR representatives to create a County Ordinance which would serve as a template for any of the Towns which felt compelled to allow the use of these vehicles on their roads.
The reason for a County ordinance is to provide my Deputies with the authority to enforce the various restrictions which went above and beyond what the current state law has articulated. While we enforce Federal and State laws, as well as County ordinances, we do not enforce Town, City, or Village ordinances, thus the reason for the County ordinance. One example of these provisions is the age limit for operation. By state statute anyone 12 years of age or greater could operate an ATV on a public roadway. We had some serious concerns about this age and instead put the age of operation at 16 with a valid driver’s license. Another limitation we placed within the ordinance is a maximum speed of 35mph for operation on public roads, along with hours of operation restrictions. We also addressed the potential for loud noise as we state in the ordinance that any vehicle operating on the public roads would be prohibited from modified exhausts.
While many other communities have allowed for the use of these vehicles on their roads, I am proud to say that Kewaunee County is unique in that we have provided a standard ordinance which not only creates consistent language to minimize confusion, but also a mechanism by which we can take effective enforcement action to keep our roads safe.
Allowing for these vehicles on our roads is a decision prompted by interest from our community, and it is our hope that this will be a benefit to those wishing to travel by use of ATV or UTV. It is important to note that if issues arise this ordinance can be retracted as quickly as it was enacted. I am confident that through mutual respect we can welcome these vehicles and still maintain the safe and enjoyable community we all call home. To view the draft of this ordinance, read below:
- Authority. The Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors adopts the provisions of this Ordinance pursuant to the authority of Wis. Stats. §23.33(11) and §350.18.
- Regulation of All-Terrain Vehicles. Except as otherwise specifically provided in this Code, the statutory provisions of Wis. Stat. §23.33 and Wis. Admin. Code NR §64 describing and defining regulations with respect to all-terrain vehicles are adopted and by reference made a part of this Code as if fully set forth herein. Any act required to be performed or prohibited by any statute or administrative code incorporated herein by reference is required or prohibited by this Code. Any future amendments, revisions, or modifications of the statutes or administrative code incorporated herein are intended to be made part of this Code in order to secure uniform statewide regulation of all-terrain vehicles.
- Operation of ATVs or UTVs on ATV Routes. The operation of an ATV or UTV on a roadway that is an approved ATV Route and signed in accordance with Wis. Stat. §23.33(8)(e) by Kewaunee County or any city, town or village is subject to the following provisions:
- Any operator or passenger shall comply with all federal, state, and local laws, orders, regulations, restrictions and rules, including Wis. Stats. §23.33 and Wisconsin Administrative Code NR §64.
- Operators shall observe a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or the posted speed limit, whichever is less.
- Operators shall operate on the paved surface on the extreme right side of the roadway.
- Operators shall ride in single file.
- Operators who were born on or after January 1, 1988 must have completed an ATV safety certification course.
- Operators must be at least 16 years of age and possess a valid driver’s license.
- No person may operate an ATV or UTV on an ATV Route at any time before or after the Operating Hours. Operating Hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 20 minutes after sunset for the Southern Area of Zone A under Wis. Admin. Code NR §10.06(2). The term “Operating Hours” shall have the same meaning as “Shooting Hours” for small game under Wis. Admin. Code NR §10.06(5).
- Every ATV/UTV shall be equipped, maintained, and operated so as to prevent excessive or unusual noise. No person shall drive an ATV/UTV on an ATV Route unless such ATV/UTV is equipped with a muffler or other effective noise-suppressing system in good working order and in constant operation. It shall be unlawful to use a muffler cutout, bypass, or similar device on any ATV/UTV upon an ATV Route. No person shall modify or change the exhaust muffler, the intake muffler, or any other noise-abatement device of an ATV/UTV in a manner such that the noise emitted by the ATV/UTV is increased above that emitted by the ATV/UTV as originally manufactured.
- Regulation of Snowmobiles. Except as otherwise specifically provided in this Code, the statutory provisions in Chapter 350, Wisconsin Statutes, describing and defining regulations with respect to snowmobiles are adopted and by reference made a part of this Code as if fully set forth herein. Any act required to be performed or prohibited by any statute incorporated herein by reference is required or prohibited by this Code. Any future amendments, revisions, or modifications of the statutes incorporated herein are intended to be made part of this Code in order to secure uniform statewide regulation of snowmobiles.
- Any forfeiture for a violation for the State Statutes adopted by reference in this Chapter shall conform to the forfeiture permitted to be imposed for violation of such statutes as set forth in the uniform deposit and misdemeanor bail schedule of the Wisconsin Judicial Conference, including any variations or increases for subsequent offenses, which schedule is adopted by reference.
- Any violation of this Chapter not included in the uniform deposit and misdemeanor bail schedule of the Wisconsin Judicial Conference shall have a cash deposit of seventy-five dollars ($75.00) plus court costs and one-hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) plus court costs for a second violation of this Ordinance within a 12 month period.
- Enforcement. This ordinance shall be enforced by any law enforcement officer authorized to enforce the laws of the State of Wisconsin.
- Effective Date. This ordinance is effective upon passage and publication.