June 24, 2021

Supervisors update ATV/UTV ordinance

‘Party riding’ prohibited between Sept. 15-Nov. 1, stricter fines for violators

Major incidents with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or off-road/utility task vehicles (UTVs) were kept to a minimum one year after the Jasper County Board of Supervisors allowed citizens to use them on gravel roads, ensuring the ordinance will remain in effect for another year.

Still, supervisors updated the language in the ATV/UTV ordinance Monday, Jan. 4 to include two added restrictions, permits for special uses and a harsher penalty for violators.

Jasper County Supervisor Brandon Talsma said a “vast majority” of the complaints he received from citizens were those who were in favor of the ordinance “but weren’t big fans of some of the stipulations.”

According to county documents, it is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV at any time more than one hour before sunrise or after sunset.

Drivers also cannot operate an ATV or a UTV between Sept. 15-Nov. 1 if they are engaged in what the county calls “party riding.” By definition, party riding means more than two ATVs or UTVs riding together in a group at one time.

Talsma said the ordinance, at first, prohibited riders from from driving their ATVs or UTVs entirely between that set time, which did interfere with local hunting practices.

Now, they will be able to drive their vehicles all year. But they cannot ride in close proximity to each other, or spend time traveling on the same road or in the same direction, or start or end their point of travel at the same place.

Some drivers may be eligible for an ATV/UTV Special Use Permit; for instance, during parades or other community events, like RAGBRAI. The permits will be treated similarly to fireworks permits at the auditor’s office.

“If there’s an event like RAGBRAI or a fundraiser or something like that and they’re wanting to drive a UTV … in support of whatever event it is, they can come up, fill out that form through the auditor’s office and it gets approved by the board of supervisors,” Talsma said.

Violators of the ATV/UTV ordinance will now face a $105-$850 fine, plus applicable court surcharges and/or up to 30 days in jail. Prior to the change, drivers in violation of the ordinance could be fined $65-$625.

Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty commended the ATV/UTV riders in the region. From his office’s perspective, they’d had very few problems or calls.

“I shared some concerns early on, but fortunately none of those came to fruition, and I think it’s worked really well,” Halferty said.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com