Q: I have an ATV that is used to manage our own land exclusively. It is used as a utility vehicle, like a farm tractor, for carrying things like shovels, saws, other tools, or tree seedlings I am planting. It is never used on any public trails or public property with one exception: our land is separated by a stream that we have to use a bridge on an adjacent road to access. I drive maybe 3/8 of a mile approximately a dozen times per year. Do I need ATV registration for this purpose? Would I be exempted by any ATV registration requirements by displaying a slow moving vehicle triangle on the ATV?
A: To answer this question we first have to clarify what the law defines as an ATV. Minnesota Statute 84.92 subd. 8 says ATV means a motorized vehicle with: (1) not less than three, but not more than six low pressure or non-pneumatic tires; (2) a total dry weight of 2,000 pounds or less; and (3) a total width from outside of tire rim to outside of tire rim that is 65 inches or less. All-terrain vehicle does not include a golf cart, mini-truck, dune buggy, or go-cart or a vehicle designed and used specifically for lawn maintenance, agriculture, logging, or mining purposes.
The key here for the purposes of this question is what the vehicle was specifically designed to do by the manufacturer. Notice the statute requires that for a vehicle to be defined as something other than an ATV it has to be designed AND used for agriculture. If the manufacturer didn't design it to be used for those purposes specifically, which few "4-wheelers" were, then it is an ATV by statute.
Assuming that the person asking this question has a machine that statute defines as an ATV, we then have to look at Minnesota Statute 84.922 which lays out the requirements for ATV registration. Subdivision 1 says, in short, that no ATV may be operated in the state without being registered unless one of the exemptions in subdivision 1a applies. Unless the machine is more than 25 years old, the writer has not stated anything that would exempt the ATV from registration.
Subdivision 2a of the same statute allows for private use registration for an ATV that is used exclusively on private property for a fee of $6 plus processing. Private use registration does not expire but cannot be transferred to a new owner. As long as you are conducting those agricultural activities, you would be able to operate on the township gravel road to access the other half of your land.
Placing a slow moving vehicle triangle on the back of the ATV is not a bad idea to increase visibility, but would not affect the registration requirements.
Jake Willis is a Minnesota State Conservation Officer covering the Brookston Station. Send your questions to email@example.com.