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Ask a Trooper: ATV youth operation

Question: A few years ago, you wrote about this, but has anything changed? What is the regulation concerning who can ride a 90 CC ATV, and where they can ride them? I often see young children under age 12 riding them on easements and county roads. If you say something to their parents, they say that the law says that as long as they can reach the peddles then they are legal to ride. Please discuss the regulations on this issue.

Answer: Yes, it has been awhile. I had a DNR enforcement officer review this information before sending to make sure it is all still valid. Check for specific and more detailed regulations at just about any ATV dealer, local DNR office, DMV office, or on the web at, or at just about any police department or sheriff’s office, or State Patrol District Headquarters, and many other sources. There are numerous regulations but here are some of them which apply directly to your question.

Anyone under age 16 now has to have a parent or guardian’s permission to ride the 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, etc. 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 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 age 12-15, 15 and older, and ages 16 and 17. The laws are too numerous to print them all here. All adults should take the responsibility for their youthful operators to ensure that 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, MN State Patrol, P.O. Box 644, Brainerd, MN, 56401, or email questions to with Ask a Trooper in the subject line. Questions are edited.