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Nov 07

May 2019

Posted on November 7, 2019 at 11:23 AM by Craig Johnson

“What’s New in County 22?”

          I’ve been asked by several folks to talk about the county’s side by side ordinance to refresh the rules to the people out there riding them.  Most county’s ordinances are a little different but here are our Clayton County’s rules.

          Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV)  may be operated on secondary graveled public roadways with the exception of Level C roadways.  A person may only ride on a county paved road only to reach the next permissible county gravel roadway.  There is a section of roadway banned from UTV riding which is from the Garnavillo City limits on Clayton Rd. to 232nd St. which because of heavy truck traffic and the dangers thereof.

Here are the rules listed in our county ordinance.     

1. A person shall not drive or operate an Off-Road Utility Vehicle:

a. Unless they have a valid driver’s license—not including driver’s permits—are registered with the IDNR with properly displayed registration decal and have a valid proof of insurance on their Off-Road Utility Vehicle. (This may be obtained from the County Recorders’ office)

b. At a rate of speed not greater than 35 miles per hour.

c. In a careless, reckless, or negligent manner so as to endanger the person or property of another or cause injury or damage thereto.

d. While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotics or habit-forming drugs as prescribed under chapter 321J of the Code of Iowa.

e. Without a lighted headlight, taillight, and turn signals to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles at a distance of five hundred feet ahead and back, and have a minimum one mirror to allow visibility to a minimum distance of 200 feet behind the vehicle.

f. In any park, wildlife area, preserve, refuge, game management area, or any portion of a meandered stream,  or any portion of the bed of a nonmeandered stream, which has been identified as a navigable stream or river by rule adopted by the department and which is covered by water, except on designated riding areas and designated riding trails. This paragraph does not prohibit the use of ford crossings of public roads or any other ford crossing when used for agricultural purposes; the operation of construction vehicles engaged in lawful construction, repair, or maintenance in a streambed; or the operation of Off-Road Utility Vehicle on ice.

g. Upon operating within railroad right-of-way, an Off-Road Utility Vehicle may be driven directly across railroad right-of-way only at an established crossing and, notwithstanding any other provisions of law, may, if necessary, use the improved portion of the established crossing after yielding to all oncoming traffic. This paragraph does not apply to a law enforcement officer or railroad employee of a utility with authority to enter upon the railroad right-of-way in the lawful performance of the employee’s duties.

h. Riders under the age of 16 years old shall wear an approved helmet.

i. The operator and riders of an Off-Road Utility Vehicle shall wear the seatbelt or harness as so equipped by the manufacturer.

j. Operators under age of 18 shall have a valid IDNR Certification for Off-Road Utility Vehicle education course.

k. Operators shall abide by all traffic laws and posted traffic signs.

l. Riding groups of more than 24 Off-Road Utility Vehicles shall not be allowed without a Board of Supervisors’ issued permit.

2. Any person operating an Off-Road Utility Vehicle with a firearm in the operator’s possession, shall abide by any applicable state laws during the time this ordinance is in effect.

3. A person shall not operate an Off-Road Utility Vehicle with more persons on the vehicle than it was designated to carry.

4. A person shall not operate an Off-Road Utility Vehicle on a designated trail other than Secondary Roads unless the trail is signed as open to Off-Road Utility Vehicle operation.

5. A person shall not operate their Off-Road Utility Vehicle in any areas of the roadway ditch.

SECTION 05. EXEMPT VEHICLES Registration shall not be required for Off-Road Utility Vehicles used exclusively as farm implements.

SECTION 06. PENALTIES Violation of this Ordinance constitutes a Simple Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of at least $65.00 and no more than $625.00 and/or up to 30 days in jail plus applicable court surcharges and costs.

Every city or town in Clayton County has their own ordinances on UTVs as well.  It is best to check on the ordinance in the towns in your area to see what it is, in case it is different from the county ordinance. 

And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me anytime, e-mail me at, or stop by to see me.

Thanks and be safe,

Sheriff Mike Tschirgi