Local municipal bodies in Kewaunee County now have a blueprint to go off of when they introduce their own all-terrain and utility vehicle ordinances. The Kewaunee County Board voted 13-5 on Tuesday to approve a countywide ordinance limiting who, where, and when people can drive the vehicles on county roadways. Some of the provisions include a maximum speed limit of 35 miles per hour and a minimum driving age of 16. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says the ordinance gives the rules uniformity across the area and his department the ability to enforce them.
It is now up to the individual towns, villages, and cities to pass the ordinance for them to be allowed on county roads, something Joski says could happen by this spring. You can watch a video and read more about the new ATV ordinance and what it means to you below.
FROM SHERIFF MATT JOSKI
This past week the County Board met and voted to adopt an ordinance regarding the enforcement of ATV/UTV use on our local roadways. 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. Please check with your local Town or Village as to the allowance of these vehicles on your local roads as again the authority to allow them rests with the local jurisdictions. To view the ordinance please go to our Sheriff’s Department website at: www.kewauneesheriff.com