Increased ATV/UTV Access

The City Council of Granite Falls, Washington will have its first reading on a new WATV ordinance this Wednesday, 2/11/2015, at 7:00pm. It's the first item on the agenda. Please attend the meeting and be willing to speak for support of street-legal WATVs on the roads!

WE NEED YOUR HELP WITH WATV ORDINANCES

We need to work with counties and cities to "opt in" through ordinances, and this is going well. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles open to licensed WATVs in several east-side counties (come see us for a map/overview). There's a pilot project in King County; Snohomish country needs citizen input to the County Council.

  • The lawsuit against Okanogan County's WATV ordinance failed, meaning the ordinance will be implemented.  Be sure to stay on the road/trail or you will lose access.
  • Here in Western Washington, we can report that Sultan, East Wenatchee, Cashmere and Skykomish have passed ordinances opening roads under their jurisdiction to WATV use.
  • Duvall and Granite Falls will host community meetings soon to get public input on WATV access.
  • A group of citizens is working on a strategy to move Snohomish County forward.
    Please contact Linda (info@premierpolaris.com) if you are interested in Snohomish County WATV ordinances.
  • Pierce County has a road map and ordinance draft for an upcoming meeting, and Lewis County is just ahead of Pierce.  

We've hit a snag with the US Forest Service: they have determined not to allow our licensed WATVs/MRVs on any of the USFS-managed roads "open to all highway vehicles." It seems they have several classifications for their roads and trails, but it comes down to "roads open to all motor vehicles" and "roads open to highway legal motor vehicles only." Our WATVs/MRVs will have restricted plates (for safety), so we don't meet the USFS definition of a highway legal motor vehicle.

  • We need to work with the USFS to get our WATVs/MRVs added to their road use definition, and there is precedent for this. They update their Travel Management Plan annually, so it is critical that they hear from the motorized community and work toward this change. Further, they are required by law to coordinate with local and state government re: road use policy, so the six USFS managers in this state should be our new best friends!

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We need to work with the USFS to get our WATVs/MRVs added to their road use definition, and there is precedent for this. They update their Travel Management Plan annually, so it is critical that they hear from the motorized community and work toward this change. Further, they are required by law to coordinate with local and state government re: road use policy, so the six USFS managers in this state should be our new best friends!

  • Adults with a driver’s license will have the option to register their ATV or UTV for restricted on-road use for an additional fee of $12, which will go into a new Highway Safety Account. Funds in this new account will be used to offset road/trail signage, education and law enforcement. WATVs will be issued a motorcycle-sized metal identification plate and a brightly-colored on-road tab; it must be affixed to the metal identification plate and renewed annually.
  • Safety equipment is necessary for this license:
    • ATVs:
      • Two Headlights
      • One tail/stop lamp
      • Turn signals for use after dark
      • Reflectors
      • One handlebar mirror providing a complete view of the highway for a distance of 200 ft.
      • A windshield (unless goggles or face shield are worn)
      • A horn
      • Brakes in working order
      • A spark arrestor and muffling device (86 db limit on the “A” scale; SAE test procedure J 331a)
    • UTVs:
      • Two headlights
      • Two tail/stop lights
      • Turn signals for use after dark
      • Reflectors
      • Two mirrors providing a complete view of the highway for a distance of 200 ft.
      • A windshield (unless goggles or face shield(s) are worn
      • A horn
      • Brakes in working order
      • Seat-belts
      • A spark arrestor and muffling device (86 db limit on the “A” scale; SAE test procedure J 331a)
    • A dealer/repair shop safety inspection (with $50 fee) and liability release are also required.
    • The DoL may develop and implement an online safety training course for people that register WATVs for on-road use.
  • Will you be able to ride everywhere? No, but cities, towns, counties or any state agency may regulate the operation of WATVs on public lands under their jurisdiction and on streets, roads or highways within their boundaries.
    • In counties with a population of 15,000 or less, public roads with a speed limit of 35mph or less are automatically open to WATVs with the on-road tab (Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties).
      • The legislative body of these counties can designate roadways or highways unsuitable for use by WATVs; these must be listed publicly and made accessible from the main page of the county website.
    • All counties with a population of 15,000 or more may, by ordinance, approve the operation of WATVs on public roadways with a speed limit of 35mph or less.
    • The legislative body of a city or town with a population of less than 3,000 persons may, by ordinance, designate a street or highway within its boundaries to be suitable for use by WATVs.
    • Public roadways designated either open or closed on January 1, 2013 remain either open or closed.
  • In short, control is given to local management: cities, towns, counties or state agencies.  There are restrictions on riding on and crossing state highways.  Public lands/roads are not forced open, and there’s nothing in the bill that opens private property or private roads.

    We will also need to work with local managers to open roads/trails; these folks have experience and can help: CBORVC: Larry Smith; Skamania & Cowlitz counties: Mike Hayden; King and Snohomish counties: Ted Jackson; Pierce & Thurston counties: Gary Johnson; Spokane area: Gary Prewitt

    • The bill leaves all provisions of "the Hinkle Bill" intact (RCW 46.09.360 and RCW 46.09.450).
    • The bill cites existing ATV legislation about how and where you can ride (Chapter 46.09 RCW). For years, it has been illegal to trespass, create new trails or "ride in such a manner as to unreasonably expose the underlying soil, creating erosion or injuring trees, crops or other vegetation."
      • The bill does waive the police presence rule, though, meaning that an officer doesn’t have to witness a violation in order to cite you for it. If someone can provide conclusive evidence (such as videos or photos) tying you to an infraction then you can be cited, and the metal identification plate helps identify you and your WATV.
      • Violations are considered traffic infractions.
        • The penalty for false reporting is a gross misdemeanor, and carries a stronger penalty than a traffic infraction (RCW 9A.20.010 and RCW 9A.84.040).
      • Ride responsibly! Stay on roads/trails and out of water; don’t trespass; don’t damage natural resources!

      Here's The Bill: ESHB 1632

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Q. Do you have to have insurance on your vehicle?
      A. No. Motorcycles aren’t required to be insured, so the argument was made that WATVs shouldn’t be required to have insurance, either. We think insurance is a good idea, though.

      Q. Will your WATV need a Discover Pass?
      A. No, but your tow vehicle better have one if you are on lands that require it.

      This is the legislation to the best of our knowledge; we anticipate some hiccups as this rolls out. We assume no liability for inaccuracies and will continue to post information/FAQs here. If you have questions or comments, please contact Linda via info@premierpolaris.com.