UTV inspections to begin soon


Get ready to put your utility task vehicle in gear in Brownstown.

The town council recently passed the third and final reading of an ordinance establishing traffic regulations for the registration and operation of off-road vehicles on streets and alleys in the county seat.

Once a legal advertisement is placed in the newspaper, the ordinance will be valid 10 days after publication. The ordinance also will be placed on the town’s website, explorebrownstown.com.

UTV owners then can pay a $25 registration fee at town hall and call the police department to set up an inspection.

During the inspection, the owner, who must be at least 18, will be required to show proof of a motor vehicle driver’s license, vehicle registration and liability insurance. The vehicle must meet the standards of headlights, taillights and brakes; be equipped with a functional rear-view mirror; and have either an orange pennant or flag, a slow-moving vehicle emblem or a turn signal kit.

By the time inspections begin, town officials hope to have reflective decals available for owners to place on their UTV. Councilman Matt Smith showed a sample of what the decals will look like. The top part has a split panel with one half red and the other half black. Below that will be the year and a number issued to each UTV owner.

The inspections would continue on an annual basis.

The ordinance came about after local UTV enthusiasts approached Smith about allowing them to drive their vehicles in town. About a dozen of them attended the Feb. 6 meeting when the ordinance was introduced, and some returned for the second and third readings.

In drafting the ordinance, town attorney Rodney Farrow said he implemented aspects of Salem and Crothersville’s ordinances along with state law.

UTVs will not be allowed on town streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

They cannot be on sidewalks, the walking trail in town, school property, unpaved surfaces of public property or private property without permission of the owner. They also cannot be on Bridge Street, Walnut Street or Base Road when school buses are present.

State law says UTVs cannot be driven on federal highways or state roads, which in Brownstown includes U.S. 50 and state roads 135 and 250. They can only cross those roads in a 90-degree path.

The town’s ordinance also states the town is not liable for accidents or damage. A UTV cannot be occupied by more people than for which it’s designed, and each occupant must have and use a separate seat and wear a seat belt.

Anyone violating the ordinance would be fined $50 for the first offense in a one-year period and $100 for the second offense. That money would go into the town’s general fund and be made available for appropriation to the police department’s operating budget. A second violation within a year also would result in the operator’s permit being revoked.

If a UTV driver operates unlicensed or without required equipment, the vehicle would be impounded until retrieved by the owner and a properly licensed operator. The vehicle would not be released until it’s properly registered and all towing and storage fees are paid.

UTVs not reclaimed within 30 days would be deemed abandoned and sold as surplus property.