Ask an Official: Local law enforcement discusses ATV/UTV vehicle operation in city limits
This week’s featured question reads:
“What’s the word of the law with using ATVs in town? On one hand I hear we are only allowed to go from home to a trail head, or trail head to trail head. On the other hand I hear we are allowed to use them to go into town to eat, shop and what not. But I also was told if we are caught taking them into town and not intending to trail ride, we can get a huge ticket! So what is the real deal? Are we allowed to ride them in town for the heck of it? Or are we only allowed to use them to connect from trails?”
Given both the cities of Merrill and Tomahawk have opened certain routes to recreational vehicle traffic, both Tomahawk Police Sergeant Steve Buckwalter and Merrill Police Chief Corey Bennett have weighed in on this week’s question, in an effort to educate local residents on proper ATV/UTV/Snowmobile operation within city limits.
Answer as given by TPD Patrol Sargent Steve Buckwalter:
“Thanks for the question.
“In the City of Tomahawk there is a city ordinance that addresses this. City ordinance 94-229: “All-Terrain Vehicles on City Streets indicates that ATV and UTV may be operated on city streets in the manner provided by state law and this ordinance so long as the use of streets not designated as ATV routes are only for direct access to an ATV route or trail. Operation of an ATV or UTV on a city street other than on an ATV route or trail must be a direct route from point of origin to an ATV route or trail.”
“There are maps of the City of Tomahawk which show the designated ATV routes through the city as well as ATV signs posted on the route.
“Operation of ATV and UTV is not permitted On S. Tomahawk Ave./State Hwy. 86 and Somo Ave./State Hwy. 86 except as necessary to cross them in strict compliance with state law.”
Answer as given by Merrill Police Chief Corey Bennett:
“The intent of the ordinance, as it was passed, was to allow city residents to access the ATV trail system from their homes, responsibly. In doing that, the ordinance effectively opened most City streets (except all State Highways and portions of Center Ave.) for ATV use. Despite the ordinance language, most residential streets are not properly signed and therefore should not be used unless responsibly accessing the signed trail system.
“The theme with our ATV/UTV/Snowmobile ordinance(s) is responsible use. If we encounter repeated irresponsible use of these granted privileges I can assure you it will be taken away by repeal of the ordinance or by order of the Merrill Police Department. I would encourage interested riders to become informed of the proper rules of operation within the City and always practice proper safety. As always, if you have any questions just give us a call. If we do not know, we will find the answer.”