WHY ATVS ARE NOT STREET LEGAL IN WISCONSIN
All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are popularly used for outdoor recreation or to drive over rough terrain. Wisconsin state laws prohibit the operation of all-terrain vehicles on public streets.
ATVs are also not permitted to use connected space such as ditches or shoulders. In addition to bans on ATV use on public roads, Wisconsin also does not permit common street use of dirt bikes and similar off-road vehicles. There are no provisions within Wisconsin ATV laws that establish a guideline for modifications that might create a street legal ATV.
However, there are some important exemptions to this ban on ATV operation in the state of Wisconsin.
In short, ATVs are not street legal in Wisconsin because they are not designed for use on public roads. They feature:
- A higher center of gravity
- A narrower wheelbase
- Knobby, low-pressure tires
The high center of gravity combined with the narrow wheelbase creates a tipping hazard. The low pressure, knobby tires are designed specifically for off-road use and might not react to pavement appropriately. Additionally, many ATVs have a locked rear differential which inhibits tight turns. All of these attributes are perfect for a good off-road experience but make for a potentially dangerous ride on a paved road.
ATVs include warnings from the manufacturers in owners’ manuals, and sometimes in warning labels on the vehicle. Specifically, the owner’s manual for the 2019 Polaris Sportsman 570 strongly advises against operating on pavement and states that you should “Never operate this vehicle on any public street, road or highway.”
EXCEPTIONS TO WISCONSIN ATV LAWS
ATV laws in Wisconsin allow for some sharing of the road. ATV operators are allowed on the road in the following situations:
- When a road is not maintained for adverse conditions or seasonal obstructions
- When crossing a bridge on a route designated for use by ATV
- With permission, on private property
- For agricultural use
If being used on a public road, an ATV rider should recognize they must always yield the right of way.
PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING WISCONSIN ATV LAWS
When driving an ATV in Wisconsin you must always be sure to operate within the rules to avoid fines, jail and/or injury. If you are found operating in violation of the law, a Conservation Warden, state patrol officer, county sheriff or municipal peace officer may enforce the law.
Fines for violating ATV laws in Wisconsin can be anywhere from $150 to $2,000. Furthermore, you can serve up to 1 year in prison.
Know the laws before you ride.
If you have been hurt in an accident involving an ATV and it appears that another party may have been at fault, you may be entitled to seek financial compensation. To discuss your options with a legal advisor, contact the personal injury attorneys of Habush Habush & Rottier at 800-2-HABUSH (800-242-2874).