All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) are nothing short of commonplace in Wisconsin. They’re a part of our state’s culture, whether they’re being used for summer recreation ‘up north,’ or agriculturally for Wisconsin’s farms. However,  four-wheelers can also be dangerous. In 2020, 264 combined ATV and UTV crashes were reported, leading to 37 deaths and 240 injuries.

The sad truth is that if used improperly, illegally, or recklessly, four-wheelers can cause serious injuries. Some of you may know this all too well. If you’ve been injured by an ATV or UTV user, you might be wondering if you can drive an ATV on the road in Wisconsin. 

In this post, we’ll explain whether four-wheelers are legal to drive on Wisconsin roads and what you can do if you’ve been injured by an ATV user.

Are ATVs Legal to Drive on Roads in Wisconsin?

The short answer is no. However, that’s not an absolute; there are exceptions to it for specific circumstances, but generally, ATVs and UTVs can’t be driven on roads the way other vehicles can. Below, we’ll explore these exceptions more in depth, so let’s get to it.

Where is it Illegal to Drive an ATV or UTV?

Public Roads

In almost all cases, it’s illegal to drive an ATV or UTV on public roads. ATV routes and trails don’t have residential access, so users can’t drive ATVs or UTVs to and from their homes in most cases. 

Unimproved right-of-ways or ditches

Operating an ATV or UTV alongside town roads, county highways, and state highways in ditches or unimproved right-of-ways is illegal in most cases as well. There may be exceptions if there’s a designated trail beside the road, or if the vehicle is operated with permission on private property and is at least 10 feet from the road surface. In the case of interstate highways, it’s completely illegal to ride alongside in ditches or unimproved right-of-ways.

Where is it Legal to Drive an ATV or UTV?

ATVs and UTVs can’t be operated on most public roadways. However, you may still see these vehicles on roadways. They are allowed on roadways when crossing a bridge or road (from trail to trail, for instance), or on rural roads that aren’t maintained year-round for automotive use.

When ATV and UTV operators enter the roadway, they must be very careful. Regulations designate that operators must stay to the extreme right of roadways, use hand signals or indicators when turning, and not pass any other road users. Additionally, they’re expected to go no faster than 10 mph within 100 feet of anyone not in a vehicle, and obey all other road markings.

Agricultural and Farm Use

Because ATVs and UTVs are commonly used in agricultural applications, they’re allowed on roadways strictly for the use of transporting agricultural equipment or products. Agricultural ATV and UTV operators are still expected to follow rules such as staying to the far right of roadways and using turn signals and headlights. Additionally, ATVs and UTVs used for agricultural purposes must be legally registered as such.

Designated-Use Trails and Routes

ATV trails are specifically designated for riding ATVs or UTVs. They’re marked by brown signs with a white ATV. Many ATV routes are along mixed-use trails, so ATV operators may encounter snowmobilers, horseback riders, motorcyclists, and cyclists. ATV and UTV operators must adhere to rules such as slowing down and maintaining as much distance as possible between other trail users.

ATV routes are local roadways that have been opened to ATV use by specific municipalities. Both trails and routes don’t allow for residential access, so ATVs and UTVs must be hauled to and from routes to be compliant with regulations.

What to do if You’ve Been Injured due to an ATV user

ATVs are smaller vehicles and are commonly associated with recreation, but despite this, they can be just as dangerous as other vehicles. In fact, four-wheelers may encourage recklessness and stunts unlike anything possible in a car. Some of the most common ATV violations in Wisconsin include things like reckless operation and operating while intoxicated.

In short, ATV and UTV crashes are caused by many of the same factors that cause other automotive crashes. If used improperly, these vehicles can cause life-altering injuries. If you’ve been injured by a four-wheeler user in Wisconsin, contact a personal injury lawyer right away.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?

A personal injury lawyer can help you following an injury caused by an ATV user in a number of ways. If you were injured by a four-wheeler operator, odds are that they weren’t following regulations such as slowing below 10 mph near other users, maintaining their distance, or operating in an otherwise reckless way. However, to receive the compensation you deserve, you’ll need to prove this. 

Skilled personal injury attorneys can demonstrate that the ATV operator was at fault or negligent when they caused your injuries. A personal injury attorney will also help you by demonstrating your losses, such as injuries, lost income due to your recovery, and the pain and suffering you underwent as a result of the injury.

Pasternak and Zirgibel Will Fight for Your Rights

Frank Pasternak and Jeff Zirgibel are experienced attorneys who will fight on your behalf to get the compensation you deserve. With over 50 years of combined experience, Pasternak and Zirgibel can guide you through the complex legal process, helping you to understand what each decision and choice means for your results.

For the compensation and peace of mind you deserve, don’t wait. Contact Pasternak and Zirgibel today for a free case evaluation.