Conservation warden gives presentation to city council about ATVs-UTVs

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By Ted Pennekamp

 

The Prairie du Chien City Council heard a presentation by Crawford County Conservation Warden Cody Adams about ATVs and UTVs during it regular meeting Aug. 20.

Adams said there were 275,000 registered ATVs or UTVs in Wisconsin in 2009. In 2018, there were 400,000. Last year, there were 15 fatalities statewide due to ATV or UTV use.

Adams said persons born after Jan. 1, 1988 have to take an ATV-UTV safety course before they can legally operate one. Anyone over the age of 16 can take the safety course online, said Adams.

Adams also told the council that ATVs and UTVs are not recommended to be driven at high speeds on paved roads because they have low-pressure tires, which is a hazard. “They’re not meant to be operated on a hard road,” said Adams. Adams also said, however, that 35 mph is not considered a high speed.

Adams said the Department of Natural Resources has no official stance regarding the operation of ATVs or UTVs on hard roadways.

Police Chief Kyle Teynor brought up the difference between regular vehicles and ATVs-UTVs regarding OWI offenses. Adams said there is a difference, and that ATVs-UTVs can’t be charged the same as a motor vehicle. Also, ATVs-UTVs can have open intoxicants. Teynor said it is not clear statewide whether ATV-UTV operators who are driving while intoxicated can be charged with OWI the same as a motor vehicle operator, they might be charged with a recreational offense. He said the city should check with the city attorney and other appropriate people on the matter.

When asked by City Attorney Lara Czajkowski-Higgins, Adams said he is not aware of any municipalities that distinguish between an ATV and a UTV as far as their ordinances are concerned. Adams also said that a UTV is considered to be a side-by-side vehicle with a roll bar.

It was also noted that there are specific ordinances governing the use of ATVs-UTVs for the purpose of snow removal.

Mayor Dave Hemmer said that no matter what the council might pass as an ordinance for operating ATVs-UTVs in the city, it is still the individual’s personal responsibility to operate safely and in accordance with the ordinance.

An ATV-UTV route has been proposed for the city of Prairie du Chien, and has been discussed at previous council meetings. The proposed designated route is the most direct trail north and south, according to Mayor Dave Hemmer. It does include portions of Highway 18—mainly the bypass—a number of the roads on St. Feriole Island, County K and some back streets to and from businesses in the downtown district and the Marquette Road business district. 

The proposed ATV-UTV route will be a topic of discussion at a future city council meeting. Action may be taken at that meeting.

In other business, the council approved of extending the life of Tax Incremental District 6 for one year to fund affordable housing programs and projects within the city of Prairie du Chien.

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