Current Alerts

check mark graphic There are no Air Quality Notices for Wisconsin on Monday, April 21, 2014 at 5:17 am CT. [Refresh]

Check fire danger

Contact information
For more information about news and media, contact:
Bill Cosh
Director of Communications
608-267-2773

New rules call for rear license plate on some ATVs/UTVs as of July 1

Weekly News article published: May 29, 2012 by the Central Office

Downloadable pamphlet details changes passed by State Legislature

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This news release has been updated to clarify that the license plate requirement does not apply to ATVs or UTVs with private-use registration and are used exclusively on private property or those designated as private use with agricultural purposes.

MADISON - All-terrain vehicles and utility-terrain vehicles that have a public use registration and are used on public trails, frozen lakes and rivers are required to have a mandatory rear license plate, according to new rules slated to take effect on July 1.

The rules are part of a regulation package passed earlier this year by the Wisconsin Legislature.

License plates are not required for those ATVs and UTVs with private-use registration and are used exclusively on private property or those designated as private use with agricultural purposes.

Farmers who use these vehicles for agricultural purposes on private land are exempted from the mandatory license requirement.

Since first notice of these rule changes was issued in April by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, there has been some public confusion and questions.

Warden Gary Eddy, also the ATV Administrator for the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement, says he has often been asked why the new state law requires the plate and what it is supposed to accomplish.

"The legislation had strong support from the ATV/UTV community and land managers, it is the DNR responsibility to implement the change," Eddy said. "The rules are modeled after similar rules in place in Minnesota."

Like on a car, the plates will help with identification when it comes to theft prevention, complaints and questions about trail use or operation, Eddy said.

Some of the major changes kicking in on July 1 include:

  • ATVs and UTVs are required to display a registration ID number on a rear plate. Obtaining the plate is the owner's responsibility. Plates are not provided by the department. Plates must be a minimum of 4 inches high and 7 1/2 inches wide. The plate has to be white, the letters and numbers black, and a minimum of 1 1/2 inches high.
  • UTVs will follow nearly all the ATV laws, except where specifically referenced.
  • UTVs will have a specific UTV registration decal and non-resident trail pass.
  • A new 5-day ATV and UTV non-resident trail pass.
  • Registrations and annual trail passes will expire March 31.
  • A late fee will be assessed for customers renewing their registration after the expiration date.
  • UTV passengers may not ride in the vehicle's bed.

A downloadable pamphlet detailing these changes is available on the DNR website.

A downloadable pamphlet detailing these changes [PDF] is available on the DNR website.

For more information search "ATV" on the DNR website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Eddy, Law Enforcement, 608-267-7455 - Laws and safety; Penny Kanable, Customer and Outreach Services, 608-264-8985 - Registration & trail pass; Diane Conklin, Community Financial Assistance, 715-822-8583 - Trail grants, maintenance & signage; or Joanne M. Haas, Public Affairs, Division of Enforcement and Science, 608-267-0798


Last Revised: Tuesday, May 29, 2012