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Despite them all being motorized vehicles, drivers of ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), mopeds and motorcycles must adhere to 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 Wisconsin 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
Wisconsin requires ATVs to have registration, but riders do not have to carry insurance — unlike with a regular motorcycle or automobile.
All ATVs in Wisconsin must be registered with the state's Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin issues riders two decals, which have to be displayed on the front and back of ATVs. Additionally, riders have to attach a license plate to the rear of their vehicles.
In most cases, ATVs aren't allowed on public roads, but it can depend on the laws of local jurisdictions. 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.
What is Wisconsin's 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, though. 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, anyone driving an ATV must have a safety certification card in order to be compliant with Wisconsin's ATV laws. Furthermore, Wisconsin doesn't allow riders under 12 years old to ride ATVs except under certain circumstances:
- 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 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 legally, you don't need a Wisconsin motorcycle license, also known as a class M license. The state's moped laws allow you to drive a moped with a regular driver's license or with a Wisconsin 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, conversely, have two small wheels and are powered by an electric motor or by gasoline.
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 the state, you'll need to have a class M Wisconsin 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 take 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 motorcycle's 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?
ATV drivers in Wisconsin aren't required to have insurance, but moped and motorcycle drivers are.
For insurance purposes, mopeds and motorcycles are treated the same. Like conventional automobiles, drivers of mopeds and motorcycles have to purchase liability coverage — which protects other drivers on the road from injuries you might cause.
In order to drive a moped or a motorcycle in Wisconsin, riders must carry:
- Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist coverage: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: $10,000
Motorcycle insurance rates can vary significantly, even within the same state, so we recommend comparing rates from several of the top companies before purchasing coverage. Often, comparing rates is one of the best ways to save money on motorcycle insurance.