Sheriff Graver outlines ATV/UTV ordinance

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     After a presentation by Sheriff Greg Graver concerning a proposed ATV/UTV ordinance in Jones County, the Board of Supervisors was in support of the potential law.

     During the Nov. 7 board meeting, Graver and Bobby Krum of Amber, who initially approached the idea of an ATV/UTV ordinance, met with the board to go over the particulars. Graver highlighted the key factors of the law.

     Graver said about four years ago he was contacted by a county resident interested in establishing an ATV/UTV ordinance, but nothing ever came of it. Now, Krum and several county residents want to see something done.

     “I am happy to be involved with the process,” said Graver.

     While Krum initially contacted area counties for copies of their ordinances, Graver spoke with area sheriffs for their take on the law.

     “My conversations with five different sheriffs ended up in this ordinance,” Graver said. “I asked them what they like (about their own ordinance), what they don’t like, what they’d like to change about it.”

     Graver said there was a lot he learned about the proposed ordinance through those conversations.

     He also researched a similar ordinance at the state level to make sure the county ordinance and state code coincide.

     Some of the particulars of the Jones County ordinance:

     • Must have valid driver’s license

     • Must be 18 or older to operate, unless you have a valid license or passed the DNR ATV education course

     Graver said the state code does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to operate an ATV.

     • Not permitted to operate an ATV/UTV on the shoulder or in the ditch

     • Cannot drive over 35 mph

     “That is set by the state,” stipulated Graver.

     • Driver must be belted if the vehicle is equipped by manufacturer

     • Not permitted in county wildlife, preserves, refuge or county parks (unless permission is granted by the Jones County Conservation Board)

     Graver previously spoke to the JCCB about the ordinance, and encouraged their board to look into whether they would want to allow ATVs/UTVs on conservation property.

     “The JCCB can pass a resolution to allow operation in controlled areas,” he said.

     • No more riders than what the ATV/UTV is designed for

     • DNR registration of vehicle required

     The cost of the registration is $17.75 through the County Recorder’s Office. The county receives $1.25 per registration.

     “The county could see additional revenue because of increased use,” estimated Graver.

     He said there was also a lot of conversation concerning liability insurance by the owner.

     “Some ordinances don’t mention it, which I think is a mistake,” he said.

     Graver said the City of Monticello requires the most amount of insurance coverage, so he decided to match theirs at $500,000 per person, $500,000 per incident, and property damage of $100,000.

     Fines for improper use could be anywhere from $65 to $625. “That’s already spelled out in the state code,” Graver said. If found guilty, the driver would have a simple misdemeanor on their record.

     In terms of hours of operation, Graver said some counties don’t stipulate at all. There is a farm exemption across the state (meaning farmers are exempt from the laws of operation of ATVs/UTVs). At this time, Graver did not include hours of operation in the ordinance until the supervisors have time to review it.

     • Hard surface and gravel county roads only

     Graver spoke with County Engineer Derek Snead on the matter, and Snead said ATVs/UTVs are designed to be off-road vehicles.

     “They are specifically designed not to grip hard surface roads,” he said. “That’s not how the tires were designed.”

     He said he would like to designate which county roads they can travel on. “I like the idea of certain roads being exempt,” Snead said, “roads with a steady flow of traffic.”

     Traveling at 35 mph, Snead said it could create a traffic hazard because some county roads do not have a full shoulder width for ATVs to pull over on to allow traffic to pass.

     “You might see more public opposition once people start seeing them (ATVs) out and about,” Snead said.

     Graver said while he agreed with Snead on road exemptions, he didn’t see how the Sheriff’s Office could enforce it. “It would make our job a lot worse,” he said.

     Graver said he would hope the ATV/UTV committee would self-police themselves if any issues came up.

     “If this gets out of control, I’ll be back here asking it to be reviewed,” warned Graver. “This is not a right; it’s a privilege.”

     Krum said he’s been operating his ATV in Jackson County, and his intent is to help increase tourism throughout the county, particularly with rural businesses.

     Supervisor Ned Rohwedder asked about the use of helmets for riders, particularly for young kids.

     “It’s not a high price to pay for safety,” he said with the purchase of a helmet.

     Graver said the ATV committee is opposed to mandating use of helmets, and the state does not require it either for any age.

     “It’s about enforce versus a moral issue,” explained Graver. He said farmers are exempt, and the state doesn’t require helmets for motorcycles, so it would be extremely hard to enforce.

     “As a parent, you could require it,” suggested Supervisor Joe Oswald.

     The board will look to approve the first reading of the ordinance at their Nov. 13 meeting.



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