UTV/ATV ordinance in Newton renewed with less severe penalties

Nov. 12—Ever since the Newton City Council passed its UTV/ATV ordinance one year ago, the police department has not reported any major issues, and as a result the chief has recommended the sunset clause be removed to make limited use of the vehicles on city streets permanent and the penalties to be less severe.

The ordinance was put in place in November 2022 and was due to sunset on Nov. 8, 2023. To keep the ordinance in effect, staff recommended approving the ordinance with the proposed amendments and waiving the second and third readings. Council members did so in a 6-0 vote at their Nov. 6 meeting.

Enforcement of any violations of the UTV/ATV ordinance will be done via a uniform citation as a opposed to a municipal infraction.

Fines for the original ordinance were $150 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for subsequent offenses. Court costs are in addition to the fine amount, so about $95. With the ordinance now amended, the new fine is $70 plus $65.50 in surcharges and court costs for a total of $135.50.

The city still has the ability to suspend an operator's right to drive a UTV or an ATV on city streets should they have two or more violations within 12 months.

According to the ordinance, all UTVs/ATVs operated on city streets or highways must be registered annually, and operators are required to pay all registration fees. Operators must not drive an off-road utility vehicle at a rate of speed greater than the posted speed limit or 35 mph, whichever is less.

Operators are also required to provide proof of ownership, including but not limited to bill of sale or registration upon request by any law enforcement official. Valid driver's licenses are also required, and drivers must be 18 years old or older. UTVs and ATVs must also adhere noise restrictions under city code.

Equipment requirements are needed for UTVs and ATVs to be driven on city streets, too, such as: lighted headlights, taillights and a stop lamp, safety belts or harnesses, workable horns, rear facing mirrors and a muffler. Drivers also have to signal their intentions to turn using a hand and arm or a signal light.