News from Wisconsin ATV Association: ATV/UTV Legislation Passes the State Legislature

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February 28, 2012 10:08 AM

SHEBOYGAN, WI (February 28, 2012) -- The Wisconsin ATV Association (WATVA), representing both ATV & UTV riders, is excited to announce passage of a new bill that creates Wisconsin's next motorized recreational registration program.  The bill also makes fundamental changes to the ATV program which adapts changes based on years of feedback from users, local/state/federal land managers and law enforcement officials.

In a full day of legislative activity, both houses passed the 62 page bill on February 21st 2012. The bill is now headed to the desk of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

The following list summarizes the bill:

  • Creates a new UTV decal
  • UTV public registrations will be $30 / 2 years
  • UTVs owners will be able to purchase non-resident trail passes
  • UTV's will be included in the ATV snowplowing law
  • Tampering with UTV hour meters and odometers / same protection as ATV
  • User generated funding for trails
  • Maximum passenger & seating requirements
  • Definition of the UTV
  • Private / agriculture UTV registration will be exactly the same as ATV private registrations
  • For public UTV & ATV registrations, in addition to the 2 side decals furnished by DNR, owners will furnish their own rear plate
  • Commercial dealers, OEMs, distributors will still register with the DNR but will no longer be issued plates, only decals for a self-provided plate
  • A new shorter term, non-resident trail pass will be available for both UTVs and ATVs
  • Effective dates for non-resident trail passes and for permanent ATV and UTV registrations decals will change to April 1st from July 1st
  • A registration free weekend for ATVs and UTVs is added
  • Certain ATVs that do not currently fit the ATV definition can be registered as UTVs
  • Same safety and education rules will apply to UTV drivers

An in-depth look at the changes:
Creates a new UTV decal: With the previous UTV pilot program, UTVs received an ATV sticker.

UTV public registrations will be $30 / 2 years: The registration fee will be the same as the ATV fee which helps fund a wide range of support for the UTV trails.

UTV owners will be able to purchase non-resident trail passes: Identical to the ATV registration program, any non-Wisconsin resident will now be eligible to purchase a non-resident trail pass.

UTVs will be included in the ATV snowplowing law: Because the UTV was not a permanent program when Wisconsin passed its ATV snowplowing bill, UTVs were technically not covered under the snowplowing bill. This bill adds them to that statute.

Tampering with UTV hour meters and odometers / same as ATV: Currently there is a law that prohibits tampering with any ATV hour meter and odometer. This law protects the consumer and now applies to UTVs as well.

Additional funding for trails: $5 ATV / UTV late renewal registrations will be available for the trail program.

Passenger restrictions on UTVs: To prevent unsafe riding conditions for passengers, a UTV can only carry the number of passengers as specified by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in the designated seats. This makes riding in the bed or cargo box of a UTV illegal. 

Definition of the UTV slightly modified from the pilot program: A golf cart, low speed vehicle, dune buggy, mini-truck, tracked vehicle, and vehicles that meet federal motor vehicle safety standards are not considered Utility Terrain Vehicles.

Private / Agriculture UTV registration will mirror the ATV private registrations: This will enable law enforcement to track and aid in locating stolen vehicles.

For public UTV & ATV registrations, in addition to the 2 side decals furnished by DNR, owners will be required to furnish a rear plate: This change was added after many discussions over the years with various experts and user groups based on surveys and meetings.

  • Plate will be minimum of 4 inches in height and 7 1/2 inches wide.
  • Plate must be white
  • Black lettering a minimum of 1 1/2 inches high with a minimum 3/16 inch stroke
  • Need only the 4 registration numbers and two letters that follow -same as on the registration decal
  • Owner shall maintain the plate so it is in legible condition
  • Plate shall be attached to the rear of the vehicle 

Commercial dealers, OEMs, distributors will still be required to register with the DNR but will no longer be issued plates, only year decals for a self-provided plate: This change is to reflect the public registrations requiring a vehicle plate. Currently the DNR issues a single green, reflective plate for dealers, OEMs and distributors. This revision requires them to furnish their own plate which saves more for the ATV / UTV fund.

A new shorter term, non-resident trail pass will be made available for both UTVs and ATVs: This change allows our non-resident tourists an option of either a 5 day $20 pass or an annual $35 trail pass.

Effective dates for non-resident trail passes and for permanent ATV and UTV registrations decals will change to April 1st, beginning in 2013: The change was made to better serve the users with the registration period more closely aligned with the main riding season.

A registration free weekend for ATVs and UTVs was added: This change was made to match a popular free fishing, free entry to state parks & state trails  weekend which helps promote the sport and encourage new riders to try our trails.The weekend is defined as the first full weekend in June of each year starting in 2013.

Certain ATVs that do not currently fit the ATV definition can be registered as UTVs: This change was made for vehicles that fit all of the ATV definitions except they are heavier than 900 lbs.

Same mandatory safety and education rules will apply to UTV drivers: This change is to match the current mandatory safety law in effect for ATVs. This certification applies to anyone born on or after January 1st 1988, the person is required to successfully complete a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ATV safety class. UTV drivers must be at least 16 years old and pass the DNR ATV safety class.

The mentioned changes to the ATV program and the creation of the UTV program are a combined effort of the Wisconsin ATV Association, the Wisconsin County Forests Association in consultation with the Dept. of Natural Resources. We would like to thank all lawmakers that voted for the bill, especially the bill sponsors and co-sponsors & staffs of Senators Leibham, Holperin, Harsdorf, Moulton, Hansen, Lassa and Taylor. On the Assembly side, Representatives' Severson, Rivard, Endsley, Krug, Marklein, Nygren, A. Ott, Petryk, Spanbauer, Strachota, Tauchen, Tiffany, Tranel  Brooks, and Mursau.

Thousands of hours of combined work have been put forth into this bill from grassroots volunteers including WATVA president Randy Harden, WATVA Vice President Rob McConnell, WATVA Special Projects Manager Hank Wozniel and the Wisconsin Forests Association Legislative Committee Chairman Mike Peterson. WATVA would also like to thank all of those who submitted feedback during the drafting period.

WATVA's President Randy Harden says "I am extremely proud to represent the Wisconsin ATV Association and its members, especially during this bill drafting period. These changes will help shape the future for our ATV and now UTV recreational programs while promoting a positive economic impact to our state's tourism industry."

These changes will modernize an ever evolving ATV industry and provide a starting point for the new UTV program. UTVs are one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational products in the market place.

(From a release distributed by the Wisconsin ATV/UTV Association)

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