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Ask a Trooper: Youth ATV operators

Question: What are the youth laws when operating ATVs? I’ve observed youth riding excessively on residential roads quite fast, unsupervised and without helmets often. It is not only unsafe for them but it is unsafe for the people that live in these residential areas, and it is noisy and annoying to have these ATVs driving up and down the road at all hours of the day. How are these laws being reinforced?

Answer: 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. However, let me just say that there are numerous regulations but here are some of them 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/township before riding. Under 10 years of age, operators can only ride on private property (with permission of land owner). Under age 12 operators may only ride an ATV 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 (and must wear the 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 the responsibility for their youthful operators to 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.

If you have any questions for future columns concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, please send your questions to: “ASK A TROOPER” c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers, Minnesota State Patrol, 7694 Industrial Park Road, Suite 2 Baxter, MN 56425 or email questions to with Ask a Trooper in the subject line. Questions are edited.