Starke County Commissioners Consider First Reading on UTV Ordinance

Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas presented the commissioners with a proposed ordinance that would authorize and regulate the use of Recreational Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs or side-by-sides) and Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) on certain county roads and highways.

The Starke County highway superintendent has the authority to restrict the passage of these vehicles on certain roads at his discretion for safety purposes. Proper signage will be displayed.

The use of the vehicles is strictly on roads under the jurisdiction of the Starke County Highway Department. The vehicles cannot be legally operated in the incorporated limits of Knox, North Judson or Hamlet unless similar ordinances have been passed by those governing entities.

The ordinance includes the definitions of these vehicles and their use. The UTV or ORV must be factory installed and equipped to be operated on county roads. Exempt ORVs include a farm vehicle used for the purpose of farming, certain vehicles used for construction, industrial, search and rescue, and military and law enforcement vehicles.

The driver must have a valid driver’s license to operate the ORV or UTV legally on county roads and insurance coverage is mandatory. Drivers must obey all laws, regulations and rules on a roadway.

Brief discussion was held Monday night about registration stickers similar to those given to golf cart owners to show that the UTV is permitted to be driven on the county roadways. Wording may be worked into the ordinance for consideration on second reading.

The commissioners present, President Donnie Binkley and Charlie Chesak, approved the ordinance on first reading. The second reading is expected during the next meeting on Monday, Nov. 20. A public hearing on the ordinance is planned for Monday, Dec. 4.

A copy of the ordinance is available in the Starke County Auditor’s office in the Starke County Annex Building No. 1 in Knox.