SEASONAL: SNOW MOBILE PATROL
Snowmobile patrol normally operates on weekends and will occasionally work special events. Selective enforcement may be necessary based upon special requests or complaints received from citizens. Typically, deputies patrol the snowmobile trails and selected areas conducting inspections and compliance checks to ensure that operators adhere to state and local laws. The snowmobile patrol may be requested to assist at accident scenes and could at any time, be called out for search and rescue operations.
Michigan Snowmobile Law:
The following is a summary of important highlights from the Michigan Snowmobile Law that every owner/operator is expected to know, understand and obey. This Fact Sheet is provided as a service to encourage safety, awareness and responsibility.
A person is NOT permitted to operate a snowmobile, if his/her Michigan operator's license is suspended or revoked. Non-residents with suspended or revoked licenses in the state in which he/she resides, are also not permitted to operate a snowmobile in Michigan.
1. All snowmobiles must be registered in Michigan, except:
- Those operated exclusively on lands owned or under the control of the snowmobile owner;
- Those registered in another state; or
- Those operated exclusively in a special event conducted under a permit from a governmental unit.
2. A person who desires to operate a snowmobile in this state shall purchase a Michigan snowmobile trail permit sticker. The trail permit stickers shall be permanently affixed to the forward half of the snowmobile directly above or below the headlight of the snowmobile. A snowmobile used solely for transportation on the frozen surface of public water for the purpose of ice fishing is exempt for the requirement of purchasing and displaying the trail permit sticker.
Note: Snowmobile Trail Permits can be obtained from most sporting-goods stores, snowmobile dealerships or online from Michigan DNR (MDNR) eLicense. Access MDNR eLicense here.
3. The owner of a snowmobile having been issued a certificate of registration for a snowmobile shall affix to each side of the forward half of the cowl above the footwell of the snowmobile, the registration decal assigned to that snowmobile. Beginning July 1, 2000 the registration decal will include the registration expiration date and a registration number which will contain 2 letters and 4 numbers.
4. The operator of a snowmobile is required to carry the registration certificate for the snowmobile when operating the snowmobile. This registration certificate must be presented to a law enforcement officer, upon request.
A person shall NOT operate a snowmobile:
-At a rate of speed greater than is reasonable for conditions. Many snowmobilers believe there is no speed limit. The fact is, the highest legal speed for any vehicle anywhere in the county is 55 mph.
- While under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance.
- Without an operating headlight, taillight, brake light or brakes that are in good working condition.
- Within 100 feet of any person on ice or ice shanty; or any slide, ski or skating area.
- Without a muffler no louder than 86 decibels measured at a distance of 50 feet.
- Within 100 feet of a dwelling between midnight and 6:00 a.m., except at a very slow speed.
- In, on or across a cemetery, airport, railroad right of way, or forest nursery.
- While carrying an uncased or loaded firearm or strung bow.
- On private property without written permission of owner.
- On a public or private parking lot.
- On a public highway, street, or sidewalk.
- Upon a highway, public trail, frozen surface of a lake or other public place including an area designated for the parking of snowmobiles in a careless or negligent manner.
RESTRICTIONS ON YOUTHFUL OPERATORS
1. Operators under 12 years of age:
- Must be under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian, except when operating on land or under control of parent or legal guardian. The adult or person of direct supervision must be a person who is 21 years of age of older.
- Cannot cross a highway or street while operating a snowmobile.
- An adult having responsibility for a youthful operator may be held accountable for any violations of the law committed by the youth.
2. Operators between 12 and 17 years of age:
- Must be under the direct supervision of an adult who is 21 years of age or older and in the immediate vicinity and directly observing the youthful operator; or
- Have an approved snowmobile safety certificate in their possession before being allowed to operate alone, or
- Be operating on land owned or under the control of their parent or legal guardian.
- Can cross a highway or street if they have a valid snowmobile safety certificate in their possession.
3. Snowmobile Safety Certificates shall be presented to any peace officer upon demand.
4. The owner of a snowmobile is responsible for operation contrary to this section.
5. Snowmobile Safety Training classes are offered throughout the state and periodically through the Benzie County Sheriff’s Office.
A snowmobile shall NOT be operated unless it has at least the following:
- One headlight that emits a white light; and
- One taillight; and
- Operating brake light; and
- Adequate brakes; and
- A muffler no louder than 78 decibels, measured at 50 feet
- A person operating or riding on a snowmobile shall wear a crash helmet on his/her head.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT
The following equipment is not required by law, but is recommended for safety:
- Approved eye protection.
- An insulated snowmobile suit.
- Heavy duty gloves that provide both hand and finger protection and secure grip on the controls.
- Insulated boots for ankle and foot protection.
The following equipment is not required by law, but is recommended for emergency situations:
- Tool kit (knife, pliers, adjustable wrench, electrical tape, plug wrench and screwdriver).
- Flashlight (extra battery and bulb)
- Matches (candles).
- Disposable blanket (heat reflecting type).
- First Aid kit.
- Maps and compass (extra copies).
SNOWMOBILE AREAS OF OPERATION
A person may NOT operate a snowmobile in the following places:
- On an airport; or
- On a public or private parking lot; or
- On a railroad right of way; or
- In a cemetery; or
- On a forest nursery; or
- On private property or farm fields without permission, (posted or unposted).
A person shall NOT operate a snowmobile:
- On private property whether open, fenced, enclosed, posted or unposted; or
- When notice against trespass is personally communicated by the owner, or other authorized person; or
- In or upon farmlands, farm wood lots or platted property without written permission of the land owner.
An operator of a snowmobile involved in an accident resulting in injuries, death, or property damage of $100 or more, must immediately notify the nearest law enforcement agency.
An operator of a snowmobile must bring their snowmobile to a complete stop when signaled to do so by a law enforcement officer. FAILURE TO DO SO IS A MISDEMEANOR.
PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OWNER IS OPERATOR
The registration number displayed on a snowmobile constitutes prima facie evidence that the owner of the snowmobile was the operator at the time of the offense. Any violations, or warrants for arrest, will be sought against the owner of the snowmobile.
Cities, villages or townships may have passed local snowmobile ordinances. Operators are responsible to find out if any local regulations are in effect and comply.
For the Michigan Snowmobile Regulations go to the DNR's Michigan Snowmobile Regulation Page.