In December 2022, the Walworth County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance related to the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility-terrain vehicles (UTVs) on Walworth County roadways. The County’s ordinance specifies that if a city, town, or village has adopted a local ordinance allowing the use of ATVs and/or UTVs within their jurisdiction, as allowed under Wis. Stat. s. 23.33, then ATV and/or UTV use is also permitted on County roadways within the municipality’s boundaries regardless of the posted speed limit.
Under the ordinance, any municipality that permits the use of ATVs and/or UTVs is responsible for posting the proper signage. Additionally, ATVs/UTVs are only authorized on approved County highways between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. The ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2023. The additional time was requested in order to give residents and municipalities time to learn more about the new ordinance, restrictions, and signage requirements.
“The County is extending its authority to local municipalities to authorize and post ATV/UTV use—or not—on County highways within their jurisdictional boundaries regardless of the posted speed limit,” says Walworth County Public Works Director and Highway Commissioner Richard Hough. “However, with less than a dozen municipalities authorizing ATV or UTV use in Walworth County, riders need to know the local rules and follow the posted signs.”
In order to understand where they can and can’t ride ATVs/UTVs, riders should know the differences between the types of roads and what is allowed on each:
• Interstate Highway (I43). No ATV/UTV operation is allowed.
• State or US Highways: Controlled by the State of Wisconsin or the Federal Government. All state roads are numbered. Local cities, towns, or villages may enact an ordinance authorizing the operation of ATVs/UTVs on a state highway with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less that is located within the territorial boundaries of the municipality. State highways with speed limits over 35 miles per hour remain off-limits to ATV/UTV use unless approved by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and posted as ATV/UTV routes.
• County Roads/Highways: Controlled by Walworth County. All lettered roads are county roads. Examples are County Highways A, B, C, DD, H, etc. Authorization to drive ATV/UTVs on County roads is subject to municipal ordinances.
• Municipal Roads: The municipality controls and must post the designation of ATV/UTV routes on town, village, and city roads. All named roads are municipal roads.
Some practical pointers for riders:
- Know the local ATV/UTV ordinances. As ordinances are subject to change, contact your local municipality for the most up-to-date information.
- Follow the ATV Route signs. Stay off the road if you don’t see ATV/UTV route signs.
- Do not assume County roads are authorized unless the local municipality has posted signage.
- Know which roads are authorized and plan your route of travel ahead of time.
To assist law enforcement, government staff, residents, and riders, the County will provide public information brochures and maps outlining where ATVs/UTVs may be driven. An ATV/UTV road map is available at bit.ly/WalcoATV-UTVRoutes.
Municipalities will have the authority and fiscal responsibility to post ATV/UTV signage on roadways within their jurisdictions. Any ATV/UTV signage requests should be directed to the township, village, or city. The Walworth County Highway Department’s role is to ensure that municipalities are posting the proper signage and to monitor the approved ATV/UTV road network for GIS mapping and other public education purposes.
Anyone who operates an ATV in public riding areas—e.g. trails, frozen waters, routes, permitted county and/or forest lands—who is at least 12 years of age and who was born on or after January 1, 1988, must complete an ATV/UTV safety certification course. These ATV operators must carry their safety certification card and they must display it to law enforcement officers when requested. Visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/Education/OutdoorSkills/SafetyEducation for details.
For more information, visit http://www.bit.ly/WalcoATV-UTVInfo.