February 27, 2024

Jasper County removes ATV/UTV ordinance

Law passed by state made local policy unnecessary, supervisors say

Brady Archibald, of Newton, stands next to his UTV outside his home. The city council passed the third reading of an ordinance allowing limited use of properly equipped ATVs and UTVs on city streets.

Jasper County no longer has an ATV/UTV ordinance. The Jasper County Board of Supervisors on March 28 voted 3-0 to remove the ordinance from the books after waiving the remaining public hearings when no citizen was present to speak against the action. Supervisors and staff indicated no one had contacted them.

The original ordinance was created a number of years ago but has since become redundant with laws passed by the Iowa Legislature in 2022.

Jasper County Supervisor Brandon Talsma said the ordinance was made in response to game wardens and officials from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources writing citations for individuals in the county who were using ATVs and UTVs for non-agricultural purposes. It was a rule that Talsma said the sheriff didn’t enforce.

Within the next year or two, Talsma estimated another 36 to 40 counties passed a similar policy. The Iowa Legislature then stepped up and created its own law, making Jasper County’s policy unnecessary. The county’s ordinance, Talsma added, is now null and void and has no authority whatsoever.

“The state took over. The state said it’s legal,” Talsma said. “I think if you’re non-agriculture you have to buy a DNR permit.”

In November 2022, the Newton City Council upheld the Iowa law allowing for expanded use of ATVs and UTVs on roadways, but the city prohibited extended use of off-road vehicles on state highways like parts of Highway 14 and First Avenue/U.S. Route 6.

Additionally, councils throughout Jasper County have been addressing ATV and UTV use in their communities.

In order to operate an ATV or UTV on the highway, secondary road or city street, state law requires a driver’s license and proof of insurance. ATVs and UTVs must also operate at speeds of 35 mph or less. Cities cannot charge a fee to operate a registered ATV or UTV within the city.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.