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Basic ATV Rules
For starters....

These are just a couple of the rules outlined in your ATV safety handbook and stated in the Rules and Regulations booklet supplied by the Department of Natural Resources. For a complete list of regulations contact your local area D.N.R. department to obtain a regulations booklet.

  • There is no residential access allowance that permits you to ride from your house or place of lodging to the nearest trail. You will need to trailer your ATV to an access point on the trail unless you live immediately adjacent to a trail or route and it abuts your property.
  • You must yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians under any circumstance. Be courteous. Your actions are judged by everyone and can lead to additional restrictions.
  • You must obey all regulatory signs, such as stop signs, yield signs and speed limit signs. You can’t operate an ATV at speeds that are unreasonable or improper.
  • You can’t operate an ATV in a careless manner so that it endangers a person or property.
  • You can’t operate an ATV on a person’s private property without the permission of the owner or lessee. Failure to post the property does not give you the authority to ride there.
  • You can’t operate an ATV on or across a cemetery, burial ground, campground, park, school grounds or church property without the consent of the owner.
  • You can’t operate an ATV on an operating airport or landing facility unless you are authorized and conducting airport business.
  • You can’t drive, push, pursue or chase any animal with an ATV except that you can use an ATV for normal farming/ herding operations; however, no wildlife can be chased.
  • You can’t refuse to stop your ATV after being requested or signaled to do so by a law enforcement officer.
  • You can’t refuse to allow your ATV to be inspected by a law enforcement officer for suspected exhaust violations or other suspected equipment violations.
  • Your ATV must be equipped with a spark arrester at all times, even during the winter. Excessive or unusually loud ATVs are illegal and hurt Wisconsin’s trail system. Do not increase your exhaust noise or operate with your exhaust system in excess of normal operation. Wisconsin enforces the sound limits and penalties can be severe; however, the worst thing about a loud ATV is that it causes properties to be permanently closed to ATV riding.
  • The fines for violating the ATV laws range from $101–$ 2,000. You could also face up to one year in jail. In addition, the courts may revoke your privilege to operate an ATV. The ultimate price for violating the rules is the negative effect on the image of all ATVers. 
  • It is not unlawful to operate an ATV with a passenger. However, it is recommended you operate the machine according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Your ATV must have a white headlamp and a red tail lamp that is turned on during the hours of darkness or when you are riding on a right-of-way (routes) or when crossing roads. It is recommended that your lights stay on whenever you ride.
  • Your headlamp must be able to illuminate any person at a distance of 200 feet in front of the ATV. And must be equipped with a tail light that is visible for 500 feet to the rear during the hours of darkness.

Alcohol and Drugs - It is illegal to operate an ATV under the influence of alcohol or other drugs while on any property that is held open to the public (generally this means— trails, routes lakes/ rivers or corridors). Being under the influence is a condition in which a person’s ability to operate an ATV, because of the consumption or use of an intoxicant, is impaired to the extent that the person is less able to exercise the clear judgment and steady hand necessary to handle and control the ATV.

Implied Consent law - You are required to provide a sample of your breath if an officer has probable cause to believe you are operating an ATV under the influence. By operating an ATV on areas open to the public you have automatically consented to provide a sample of your breath, blood or urine to an officer who requests the test. If you refuse to provide a breath, blood or urine sample, you will be charged with an additional violation.

Roads - If you are under age 12, you cannot operate any ATV on a roadway or route under any circumstance.

You cannot operate an ATV upon any part of any freeway, which is a part of the federal system of interstate and defense highways or on any part of any other freeway unless the DOT authorizes ATV use on that freeway.

  • Under most circumstances you cannot operate an ATV on any highway or roadway.

There may be times when you are riding a trail and you encounter a roadway. If so;

  • You can ride directly across any roadway (except freeways), but only after stopping and yielding the right- of- way to all vehicles approaching on the roadway. Crossings under this exception may be made only at a place where no obstruction prevents a quick and safe crossing. For purposes of this exception, “obstruction” includes, but is not limited to impairment of view and dangerous roadway conditions.

You can ride on a roadway that is not seasonally maintained for other vehicle traffic and only if the road is not officially closed to ATV traffic. Check locally to see if this exception exists.

Speed and Distance - You must slow your ATV to 10- mph or less:

  • When you are riding within 100 feet of a person who is not on an ATV,
    snowmobile, motorcycle or in a motor vehicle. This includes, but is not
    limited to slowing for anglers, hikers, bicyclists, joggers, etc.

  • When you are riding within 100 feet of an ice fishing shanty (ice shack).

  • When you are riding an ATV within 150 feet of a home or dwelling

Local rules may also exist that regulate hours, days or season of ATV operation.

Want to know more?

Try our online pre-certification quiz. Or sign-up for one of our yearly ATV certification courses. We will help you understand the rules and regulations of the sport of ATV'ism.

This page is provided as a service to North East Wisconsin Riders Inc. ATV Club visitors.  North East Wisconsin Riders Inc. ATV Club can not be held responsible for errors contained in this page or any other section of this website. North East Wisconsin Riders Inc. ATV Club  strives to ensure that all our content is kept up-to-date. North East Wisconsin Riders Inc. ATV Club is an all volunteer organization and please remember North East Wisconsin Riders Inc. ATV Club is NOT offering any legal advice. We are simply trying to raise awareness. As an ATV owner it is your responsibility to know and understand the rules and regulations regarding your ATV and the surrounding community. Lets all try to work together to educate each other.



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