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Ask a trooper: Youthful ATV operators

From Curt S. Mowers, Minnesota State Patrol


What are the laws regarding the operation of ATVs by kids? I’ve often observed kids riding unsupervised, too fast and without helmets on residential roads. It is not only unsafe for them, but it is unsafe for the people who live in these residential areas. It is also noisy and annoying to have ATVs driving up and down the road at all hours of the day. How are these laws being reinforced? A reminder to youths and parents would be great!


I have answered this before, but it’s been a while. Anyone can get a regulations booklet from just about any ATV dealer, local DNR office, DMV office, on the Internet at, or at just about any police department or sheriff’s office. There are numerous regulations, but here are some that might answer part of your question.

Anyone under age 16 now has to have a parent or guardian’s permission to ride an ATV. All ATV operators and passengers under age 18 have to wear a helmet. Road authorities have the right to restrict operation of ATVs on roads under their jurisdiction, so people need to check every municipality and township before riding. Under 10 years of age, operators may only ride on private property. They must also have permission from the land owner. Under age 12, operators may only ride an ATV of up to 90 cc on public lands and frozen waters if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, and may operate only on private property with permission of the owner. They, too, must wear a helmet and have parent’s permission.

There are specific laws for operators ages 12-15, 15 and older, and ages 16 and 17. Unfortunately, there are too many laws to print here. All adults should take responsibility for their youthful operators and ensure they are safe and obeying the laws. This should serve as a warning that these laws are being enforced statewide by all law enforcement, as many deaths and serious injuries are being reported every year. Thanks for asking.