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Ask Mr. Answer Person: "Are snowmobiles allowed in the City of Decorah?"

Posted: Tue, Mar 5, 2013 4:07 PM

Jim e-mails: Dear Mr. Answer Man, What are the city laws regarding the use of snowmobiles within the city limits?  I watched one go by my house today during the snowstorm and have also seen tracks within the city limits after the storm in December.  Where and when can a snowmobile be operated in or around Decorah?  With the millions of acres of rural land and the hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails in Iowa, is it necessary and/or legal to use them within the city?

Mr. Answer Person says: "Snowmobiles ARE allowed within the city limits.  However, Decorah city code 10.80.040 spells out several violations that are considered unlawful operation:

1) Driving on any portion of the flood-protection dikes of the Upper Iowa River;

2) Driving in a careless, reckless or negligent manner;

3) Driving at a speed greater than reasonable or proper under all the existing circumstances;

4) Driving without a suitable and effective muffling device to prevent excessive and unusual noise;

5) Operating a snowmobile in the city if you're under sixteen years old.

6) Driving on any public lands not designated as a permitted snowmobile operating area by proper city officials;

7) Driving on any private lands without the permission of the owner or tenant thereof;

8) Driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotics or habit-forming drugs;

9) Driving without efficient headlights and taillights;

10) Driving with any firearms in the snowmobile, except in possession of a police officer;

11) Driving after 11:00 p.m. and before 8:00 a.m., except for emergency use authorized by the chief of police.

OK--that's a long list of violations, but the overall spirit of the ordinance is that if snowmobilers operate their snowmobiles responsibly, with consideration for the rights of others, they are welcome within the city limits.

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