In light of recent serious UTV crashes and the ever-increasing volume of ATV/UTV operation throughout all of Lafayette County, we, Lafayette County Law Enforcement, believe it necessary to remind the public of some of the laws regarding the operation of ATVs/UTVs on our trails and/or routes. This notice is not as some may perceive as a “crack down” on ATV/UTV use, but rather an attempt to make those who enjoy this form of recreation safer and more responsible. We are all very aware of the economic impact that ATV/UTV use has on Lafayette County. We do not want to see the privilege of this recreational activity jeopardized by the poor choices of a small portion of those who participate. We are seeking the cooperation of all of you who participate in, and local business establishments who benefit from ATV/UTV recreation, to assist us by reminding others to operate responsibly.
-First of all, it is important to clarify that NOT ALL roads in Lafayette County are open to ATV/UTV operation. Approved routes must be properly signed and registered with the state to be “Open to ATV/UTV traffic”.
-Operation of an ATV/UTV on a State Highway is illegal. (With exception of special circumstances such as crossing the bridge in Darlington or Argyle, and accessing Argyle from Valley Road.) This means it is illegal to operate on Galena Street, Main Street and Louisa Street in Darlington. It is legal to cross a State Road when an approved route or trail intersects.
-The speed limit for ALL ATV/UTV trails and routes in Lafayette County is 30 mph unless posted lower. (This was clarified with Township Officials, and will be established by county ordinance.) The speed limit within a City or Village is 10 mph. This may be altered by each municipality.
-Seatbelt use in UTVs is mandatory. Current fine amount is $232.
-The legal intoxication limit for operating an ATV/UTV is .08, the same as operating a motor vehicle.
-If you are operating an ATV/UTV that has been modified and no longer meets the statutory description, such as the use of high-pressure tires, and arrested for Operating While Intoxicated, the OWI could apply to your driver’s license, just as if you had been operating a motor vehicle.
-Operation of an ATV/UTV on any trail or route is prohibited between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Some municipalities have more restrictive hours of operation. (Operator’s responsibility to learn and comply.)
-No person under the age of 16 may operate on any designated road route.
-Any person under the age of 18 must wear a DOT approved helmet on any trail or road route. Use of seatbelts does not eliminate the helmet requirement.
Sheriff Reg Gill – Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office
Chief Jason King – Darlington Police Department
Warden Nick Webster- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources