MOORHEAD — Side-by-side all-terrain vehicle operators will be able to drive their machines on city roads in Moorhead starting Jan. 1 now that the Moorhead City Council has approved regulations and permits.

One-person ATVs that are straddled by the operator with handlebars for steering won't be allowed on city streets.

The Moorhead council voted unanimously on Tuesday, Oct. 12, to allow the ATVs on most city streets, but they are banned from parks, bike paths and U.S. highways 10 (Center Avenue) and 75 (Eighth Street) as they pass through the city.

Police Chief Shannon Monroe said the action was requested mostly by residents in the far north and more rural Oakport neighborhood where the vehicles are often used on roadways.

Those wishing to operate their side-by-side ATVs on Moorhead's streets will have to follow regulations and obtain a newly developed permit before doing so.

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The council made a few changes to the original proposal by lengthening permits from two to three years at a cost of $30. Monroe said the three-year cycle matches up with a state registration required for all ATVS in Minnesota.

Permits will be obtained from the Moorhead Police Department.

Monroe said the city's ATV enforcement has been murky in the past because of various state laws and no firm city ordinance.

In addition to obtaining the city permit, other requirements for operators are that they obtain insurance because they are driving on city streets and that their machines are equipped with turn signals, mufflers and rearview mirrors. A windshield or eyewear should be used, as well as seat belts if they are provided by the manufacturer.

Riding on city streets will be banned from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., along with operating on private property without permission.

Council member Larry Seljevold asked if the permits would only be offered from Jan. 1 or at staggered times.

Monroe said paperwork would be easier if all permits start only on Jan. 1 and then run for three years, with renewals available again three years later on Jan. 1.

Permits are available to those age 16 and above with driver's licenses and can be revoked or suspended by police at any time if violations occur.

When asked about what possible fines could be assessed for violations, Monroe said most moving violations are in the range of about $150.

Fargo allows ATVs or four-wheelers on streets, and the city follows state laws and regulations for their operation. However, West Fargo has a ban on all ATVs on city streets.

In Fargo, the registration fee for all ATVs is $5, and it's good for two years. Under North Dakota law, cities can't charge additional fees.

The accessories needed ride on Fargo streets are similar to Moorhead rules, including a headlamp, taillight, brakes, rearview mirror and speedometer. Insurance is required for driving on city streets, Fargo police said.

The primary difference between Moorhead's new ordinance and Fargo's existing law is that ATVs that are straddled by the operator with handlebars for steering are allowed in Fargo if they have the required street-worthy accessories.

All ATV operators in North Dakota under 18 must wear a helmet, and they can't be operated by anyone under 16 unless on their own private property.