When it comes to ATV riding, style isn’t everything. Of course, the flashy paint or the new ATV speakers will turn a lot of heads on the trails. After getting the coolest ride, make sure that you respect all current regulations. Knowing what is allowed when riding an ATV in Minnesota will save you a lot of trouble and your rides will be carefree.
All ATVs must be registered with the Department of Natural Resources, including those that will be used only on private properties.
ATV Public Use Registration
You will need this kind of registration if you intend to ride your ATV on public ATV trails or roadways. You will have to renew the registration after three years.
ATV private or agricultural use registration
An ATV used to harvest wood or for agricultural activities requires a private or agricultural use registration. The same type of registration is imposed if the ATV will be used only on private property. The registration doesn’t have an expiration date and is valid as long as the ATV has the same owner.
Both public and private use registration
In case you plan on using your ATV for agricultural activities and riding it on public trails, you will need both forms of registration.
ATV collector use registration
This registration is for an ATV that is at least 25 years old. It can’t be transferred to a new owner. Take note that the current registration number and decals must be displayed on an appropriate plate.
Basic ATV regulations
Anyone younger than 18 years old must wear an approved helmet when riding on frozen waters, public lands or trails. Children who are aged 12 or older must obtain an ATV safety certificate in order to ride on public trails, frozen waters and when crossing roads.
Children under age 16 are not allowed to ride an ATV on public lands or water if they can’t properly control the vehicle. Furthermore, they need to have permission from one of their parents or their legal guardian in order to ride an ATV.
Number of passengers
The number of passengers depends on the driver’s age. If the driver is aged 12 to 17, he/she may carry one passenger if the passenger is the parent or legal guardian. A driver that is at least 18 years old can carry one passenger on a Class 1 ATV. Also, the number of passengers might be equal to the number of designated passenger seats for a Class 2 ATV.
As a passenger, you must wear an approved helmet when riding on public land or waters or a public road. Furthermore, you must wear a seat belt, if possible.
Safety training requirements for ATV operators
Everyone who operates an ATV should have the ATV safety training complete. People who are age 16 or older must complete the training before riding an ATV on public land. Safety training can also be done online. The procedure is a bit different for youth ages 6 to 16. They must complete the online course and show up for a hands-on safety training.
There are some precautions in order to be safe when driving an ATV on public or private land. The driver must be able to control the handlebars and reach the foot pegs without struggling. Also, having the seat belt fastened, he/she should be able to control the steering wheel and foot controls of an ATV with side-by-side seating.
Make sure the ATV is the right size
Stand up on your ATV while grabbing the handles. There should be at least 3 inches between your body and the ATV’s seat. Having the right clearance will allow you to maintain balance on rough trails.
When seated, the upper part of your legs should be parallel to the ground. Maintain the position and check the position of your arms. There should be a distinct bend between the arm and the forearm. Not having a distinct bend might cause you problems when turning and riding. Also, you may not have enough reach to grab the handles well.
Grab the handles and extend your fingers to the brake lever. If the first joint of your index finger passes the brake lever, you should have no problem controlling the ATV. Nevertheless, you should rotate the handlebars far to the left and right and redo these tests. If you can easily reach every control of the ATV, it is the right size for you.
Where you can ride
You need a valid driver’s license in order to drive an ATV on a road right-of-way.
Class 1 ATV drivers
A person may operate his Class 1 ATV:
On the extreme right side of the road on a public right-of-way county or state highway. It is also permitted to make a left turn when it is completely safe.
On a township road as long as the driver stays on the far right side.
In order to avoid obstructions or natural sensitive areas, a driver may ride his/her ATV on a roadway shoulder or a bridge. The driver must stay in the right lane and enter the roadway within 100 feet of the obstacle.
Class 2 ATV drivers
A person owning a Class 2 ATV may drive on private properties, frozen waters, and on the roads of a state forest.
It is also possible to drive on the extreme right of county roads and city streets as long as it is allowed by local laws.
Don’t forget about the lights
The regulation requires for your headlight and taillight to be on at all times when driving an ATV. It is easier for other drivers to see your ATV and you will be safer.
Where you can’t ride
There are places such as an airport, a snowmobile trail, a non-motorized trail or an interstate highway or freeway where driving an ATV is strictly forbidden. Furthermore, you may not enter a planting area, a tree nursery, or calcareous fens. You might have a good time but riding an ATV in these areas will significantly damage the environment.
Most state parks, historic sites, recreational areas or wildlife management areas are also protected from off-highway vehicles riding. Ask for permission when entering private land. If you are entering private property without the owner’s consent, you are trespassing.
It is prohibited by law to enter or leave properties by cutting wires or destroying fences. Don’t damage or remove any property from an ATV trail or from state land. You are not allowed to post, deteriorate or replace any signs on any land or waters. In order to do this, you must be the owner or the lessee.
You should not drive your ATV in a careless way that might endanger other persons or might lead to property damage. Always respect speed limits for roads right-of-way and ATV trails. Speed limits could be modified by the DNR for a racing competition.
When operating an ATV on public trails, make sure to obey the trail’s rules in order to have an experience as safe as possible. When entering the trail, give priority to all motorized and non-motorized passers.
Always respect the trail signs. In general, trails are two-way but it might be indicated otherwise. If you are riding on a one-way trail, check the right direction.
Keep the right side of the trail when another rider is passing you and always use the left side for takeovers. Pay special attention to non-motorized trail users. When meeting one, reduce the speed and be ready to stop your vehicle.
If you are meeting a horse, stop and shut off the engine until the horse passes or somebody gives you clearance to go. Don’t damage or remove signs from trails as this could lead to serious accidents.
Driving while being intoxicated
It is forbidden by law to drive while being impaired by alcohol or drugs. A law enforcement officer could ask the driver to submit to a test. If the driver refuses the test, he/she will lose his driver’s license and his/her ATV privileges would be suspended for 12 months.
If the test result (blood alcohol concentration) is 0.08 or more, the driving license is revoked.
Trail passes required for nonresidents
Nonresidents driving an ATV not registered in Minnesota must purchase a trail pass. They should carry the trail pass with them at all times since a police officer may request it for inspection.
If you can’t find a place to purchase a trail pass, you can get one online.