|Many Custer County residents have been paying close attention to new Ordinance No. 15-01, allowing off-highway vehicles (OHVs) to drive on county roads. ATVs are considered OHVs, which has been a main point of conversation between the county commissioners and Rick Ashwood, the initiator behind the new law.
Ordinance 15-01 has been read during the past two commissioner meetings. The law will go into effect after the third and final reading on Thursday, April 30.
“‘Off-highway vehicle’ means any self-propelled vehicle that is designed to travel on wheels or rubber tracks in contact with the ground,” the ordinance states, “designed primarily for use off of the public highways and public roadways, and generally and commonly used to transport persons for recreation purposes.”
Though this includes the much-disputed ATVs, the ordinance specifies that the following are still illegal to drive on county roads: “Vehicles designed and used primarily for travel on, over, or in the water; snowmobiles; military vehicles; golf carts; vehicles designed and used to carry persons with disabilities; and Vehicles designed and used specifically for agricultural, logging, or mining purposes.”
OHVs also can’t be driven on state highways.
During the first public reading of the ordinance, which was on Monday, April 6, Sheriff Shannon Byerly and the commissioners went over the violations listed in the new law. The Sheriff’s Office is set to receive 80 percent of all fines paid, while the county’s Road and Bridge will receive 20 percent.
Commissioner Kit Shy and Sheriff Byerly agreed that the Sheriff’s Office would receive the 80 percent of fines on the condition that it would be spent on educating the public about what can and can’t be done with OHVs on county roads. The condition is only for the first year.
The ordinance specifies that all OHV drivers must be 16 years or older, and must carry a valid driver’s or operator’s license.
“No off-highway vehicle shall be operated at any time on any public roadway within Custer County unless the operator of the off-highway vehicle is insured to the minimum level required by the State of Colorado for the operation of automobiles,” the ordinance states.
Drivers must also be able to prove that their vehicle is properly registered and numbered with the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. The validation decal issued by the division must be placed on the OHV.
OHVs also can’t tow sleds, toboggans, or “other similar device intended to be used for recreation purposes”
However, “A utility trailer may be towed if it is attached to the off-highway vehicle by a rigid bar and is equipped with a red reflector attached to the rear of said trailer. Transporting passengers or occupants in a trailer towed by an off-highway vehicle is prohibited.”
OHVs must also be equipped with headlamps, one lighted tail light, brakes, muffler and spark arrester.
OHVs are only allowed on public roads from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As for violators, first offenders must pay a $50 fine. Second time offenders must pay $150. Any violations after that will cost $300 each.
“This is exciting,” Ashwood said at the April 6 meeting. “We are glad this is finally happening.”
When the first reading finished, it was met with applause.
– J.E. Ward