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New Regulations for Youth Riders
Take Effect this Winter
Thanks to legislation supported by the ISSA, the Iowa Department of
Natural Resources has been able to relax some of its requirements for
youths riding snowmobiles on public trails this winter.
Effective this past July when signed by Gov. Branstad, the language
parallels the regulations for the state's ATV program and, according to ISSA
President Jim Willey, makes it more family friendly.
The new law allows youth under the age of 16 to operate their own
snowmobile on state snowmobile trails and public property when under the
supervision of an adult.
“Families will be able to ride snowmobiles together on Iowa trails legally for
the first time with everyone driving their own sled,” Willey noted. "This means
a five-year-old without a safety certificate can ride on a 120 on a public trail
with a parent supervising on a full-size sled. The 120 will have to have a valid
Iowa snowmobile registration and a trail pass, however."
The law remains unchanged for youths aged 12 to 17 years who need to
have completed the IDNR’s youth safety course to operate their sled on state
trails and public property, clarified IDNR Snowmobile Program Manager
“Operators under 12 years of age do not have to have an education
certificate. This is similar to how we treat youth hunters under the age of 12,
hunting under the supervision of a responsible licensed adult,” Downing
further explained. “Choosing the size of the snowmobile for a minor operator
is the decision of the parent or guardian. There is no legal requirement.”
Here are the rules governing youth operation of a snowmobile:
- Persons under the age of 16 may operate their own snowmobile
under the direct supervision of a responsible person of at least 18
years of age experienced in snowmobile operation who possesses a
valid driver's license or an education certificate issued or recognized
by the DNR.
- Persons 12 through 17 must have a valid snowmobile education
certificate in their possession when operating.
- Persons 16 to 17 may operate unsupervised, but must have a valid
education certificate. Restrictions on operating a motor vehicle also
apply to persons in this age group.
- Persons 18 and older may operate without an education certificate if
their privilege to operate a motor vehicle has not been barred or
The ISSA wrapped up its 41st Annual Convention in Dubuque Nov. 21-23.
Outgoing president Jim Willey passed the gavel to incoming president Merv
Hoermann, making the latter the first past president to be re-elected to anothe
r term. 280 members attended this year's event, and 54 vendors were on han
d for the adjacent snow show. Click on the December 2014 issue of the Iow
a Snowmobiler magazine above left for more on this popular event.