Wisconsin Laws: ATVs, Mopeds and Motorcycles

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Despite them all being motorized vehicles, drivers of ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), mopeds and motorcycles have different legal requirements in Wisconsin. All ATVs, mopeds and motorcycles in Wisconsin must be registered with the state. ATVs may be driven without a license, but the driver must have a safety certification card. Mopeds can be driven with just a standard driver's license, while motorcycles require a motorcycle license. To drive a moped or a motorcycle in Wisconsin, you'll also need to get insurance. However, ATVs can be driven without purchasing insurance coverage.

Wisconsin ATV Laws

All ATVs in Wisconsin must be registered and must have a license plate attached to the rear of the vehicle. Even if you don't plan to drive your ATV in public areas, you're still required to register your vehicle for private use. While there is no requirement for drivers to get ATV insurance, it can be useful to have if you're ever involved in an accident. Insurance would cover damage to your ATV and provide coverage for any other damage you cause.

Wisconsin ATV Helmet Law: All ATV drivers and passengers in Wisconsin must wear a helmet if they're under 18 years old. There are some exceptions. For example, drivers and passengers who are 12 and older and traveling to fish or hunt can bypass this rule, and people riding on private property owned by an immediate family member don't have to wear a helmet.

In Wisconsin, you're not required to have a driver's license to operate an ATV. However, in order to remain compliant with ATV laws in Wisconsin, anyone who drives an ATV in a public area must be at least 12 years old and must complete an approved ATV safety course. After completing the course, ATV drivers receive a Wisconsin ATV safety certification card. Anyone who drives their ATV on public land is required to carry their safety certification card. Children under 12 years of age can still drive an ATV, but they must adhere to the following conditions, in addition to completing an approved ATV safety course.

  • They must be accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian.
  • They may only drive on off-road ATV trails.
  • They're not allowed to drive on frozen surface waters.
  • A helmet must be worn at all times.
  • The ATV must be registered.
  • The maximum engine size of the ATV is of 90 cubic centimeters (cc).

Wisconsin UTV Laws

Wisconsin UTV laws largely mirror the state's ATV laws, meaning you'll have to take a safety certification course to operate a UTV and you'll have to register the vehicle. One major difference is that you must be at least 16 years old to drive a UTV in Wisconsin even if you have a safety identification card.

Wisconsin Moped Laws

To drive a moped in Wisconsin, you don't need a motorcycle license, also known as a class M license. Wisconsin moped laws allow you to drive a moped with a regular driver's license or with a probationary license. However, it's against the law to drive a moped in Wisconsin with just a driver's permit. Similar to other vehicle types, you'll need to register your moped before you can legally operate it. It's against Wisconsin state law to have a passenger if you're driving a moped.

In Wisconsin, you may drive your moped on any road except on freeways or in places they are specifically prohibited. Keep in mind that you're not allowed to drive on sidewalks or along fence lines with mopeds. You may drive your moped on bike paths if traffic signs indicate that it is permitted. In terms of parking, mopeds are flexible, as they can be parked in spaces designated for cars or on bicycle racks. While you can't drive a moped on a sidewalk, you're allowed to park there.

What's Considered a Moped in Wisconsin?: Mopeds are vehicles with an engine that is 50cc or less if the vehicle has an automatic transmission, or 130cc or less if the vehicle has operative pedals. Motorized scooters, on the other hand, are defined as having two small wheels and being powered by an electric motor or by gasoline. Drivers may not operate motorized scooters on any public road or any sidewalk.

Safety and Equipment: When driving a moped at night, you're required to use headlights, but you're not required to use them during the day. Wisconsin doesn't have any laws requiring moped drivers to wear helmets. That said, it's advisable to wear one because mopeds offer drivers very limited protection during accidents.

Wisconsin Motorcycle Laws

In order to drive a motorcycle in Wisconsin, you'll need to have a class M motorcycle license or a motorcycle instruction permit. Furthermore, drivers younger than 18 must complete a driver's education course and finish a basic rider course. Like other vehicle types, motorcycles must be registered with the state.

All motorcycle drivers, regardless of age, are required to have eye protection, which could be in the form of a face shield, goggles or an approved windshield. Wearing a helmet isn't required unless you're under 18 years old. Other protective apparel, such as gloves and boots, are recommended but not required by Wisconsin law.

Your motorcycles headlights must be turned on at all times, even if you're riding during the day. Furthermore, your motorcycle must have turn signals, a rearview mirror and a muffler. Keep in mind that your motorcycle's handlebars aren't allowed to be more than 30 inches above the seat. In Wisconsin, you're allowed to ride with a passenger, but your motorcycle must have a passenger seat with dedicated footrests.

Do You Need Insurance for an ATV, Moped or Motorcycle in Wisconsin?

While ATV drivers in Wisconsin aren't required to have insurance, moped and motorcycle drivers are. In order to drive a moped or a motorcycle in Wisconsin, you'll need to have at least $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person, $50,000 of bodily injury per accident and $10,000 of property damage coverage. Motorcycle insurance rates can vary significantly, even within the same state, so we recommend comparing rates from several of the best motorcycle insurance companies before purchasing coverage. Oftentimes, comparing rates is one of the best ways to save money on motorcycle insurance.

Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

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