Laws & Regulations

All riders in Wisconsin who were born after January 1, 1988 and are over the age of 12 are REQUIRED to complete an approved ATV Safety Course, and carry the Wisconsin ATV Safety Certificate with them while riding on public lands.

Other age restrictions in Wisconsin

In addition to the required ATV safety certificate, all riders who are under 12 and who are riding on public lands must follow these restrictions:

Children under the age of 12 may operate a small ATV, and ONLY under the following conditions:

  • They may ONLY operate a registered four-wheel ATV that is 90cc or less
  • They may ONLY operate on a designated off-road ATV trail (cannot cross a roadway or operate along any roadway, even if it is defined as an ATV route)
  • They may NOT operate on frozen surface waters under ANY circumstances
  • They MUST be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at all times (siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents or friends will not meet this requirement). Accompanied means the parent must be in continuous verbal contact.
  • They MUST be wearing a helmet at all times.

ATV Safety Gear Requirements

All ATV riders in Wisconsin should wear an approved helmet at ALL times when riding their ATV, regardless of their age or experience level. In Wisconsin, a helmet is mandatory for all riders (operators AND passengers) under the age of 18, with the following exceptions:

  • When operating on areas that are open to the public, all riders under 18 must wear a helmet, except for those over the age of 12 if they are traveling for the purposes of fishing or hunting
  • On private land that is owned and controlled by the rider's immediate family, a helmet is not required. If, however, the land is owned by someone who is not a member of the operator's immediate family, a helmet is still required, with the same hunting/fishing exception as stated above.

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Ride Safe and Legal!

Before heading out on Wisconsin's ATV and OHV trails, please remember the following tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride:

  • Always wear appropriate safety gear when riding.
  • Ensure your ATV is properly registered in the state.
  • Always stay on designated trails. Stay off paved roads.
  • Obtain the landowner's permission before going onto private land.
  • Know before you go - contact the landowner or land management agency to find out about open ATV trails or routes.
  • Never, ever ride an ATV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Important Note

The laws and regulations on this page are meant as a quick reference for ATV riders. It is your responsibility to know ALL ATV laws before heading out on the trails. For a complete list of ATV laws and regulations in Wisconsin, please consult with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at