Effective today, properly licensed, registered and insured all-terrain vehicle and off-road utility vehicle owners will be able to use their machines on secondary gravel roads in Webster County.
Webster County Sheriff Jim Stubbs wants to make sure riders are up to speed on staying legal.
"The rider has to be a licensed driver 16 years of age or older," he said. "They must have proof of insurance for the machine with them."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Webster County Recorder Judy Cosgrove holds one of the new ATV plates required by the new Webster County ordinance that allows all-terrain vehicles and off-road utility vehicles to be operated on secondary roads. The ordinance takes effect today. As of Friday, 77 owners had already purchased the plates, to which they add assigned numbers and letters to later.
In addition, the machine has to be legally registered in the Webster County Recorder's Office and owners need to purchase a special plate. The rider is then responsible for obtaining letters and numbers to apply to the plate, which has to be mounted on the vehicle.
One of the concerns that was expressed before the law was passed by the Webster County Board of Supervisors was the impact on farm producers who use the machines.
"It doesn't affect those that are registered for farm use," he said. "They're still allowed to do the same as before."
The only exception is if those owners decide to expand their riding beyond agricultural work and into recreational riding. They would then need the plates.
Riders need to follow the rules of the road as well.
That includes obeying the posted speed limit, staying out of the ditch, not riding at night, keeping a headlight on and making sure the light works.
Except for limited circumstances, it also means staying off the pavement.
That is only allowed for a short distance to reach the nearest allowed gravel road. It also only applies to paved Webster County roads - riding on highways is still illegal.
Stubbs said he thinks the new ordinance will work out.
"It's great to give the people that want to do recreational riding the opportunity," he said.
He doesn't think it will impact the illegal riding that's already taking place.
"It affords an opportunity for those who abide by the law," he said.
He said that other areas of the state are watching to see how it works for Webster County. The number of counties who allow riding is in the upper single digits, he said.
"It's the riders responsibility to make this work," he said. "The ordinance can be repealed faster than it was passed."
According to Webster County Recorder Judy Cosgrove, as of Friday, 77 of the new plates had been sold by her office.
"People are coming in to renew their registration so they're going ahead and getting them," she said.
The reaction so far?
"They're happy about it," she said.
The plates cost $10 for each vehicle.
The fine for violating the ordinance, a simple misdemeanor, is listed in the law as between $65 and $625 with court costs and fees in addition. It can also land the violator in jail for up to 30 days.