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Brittany Lawonn, Published December 26 2008

City limits off-limits to snowmobilers

While some find our recent weather frightful, many snowmobilers find it delightful.

But that might be a problem if they take to their sleds in the metro area’s city limits.

It is illegal to operate a snowmobile in the city limits of Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo, with some exceptions.

Snowmobiles are not con-sidered on-road vehicles and are not registered as such, so they cannot be used along sidewalks, highways or city streets, said Fargo Police Traffic Safety Unit Sgt. Mike Mitchell.

People can snowmobile on their own private property, but city dwellers might not find much room to do so, Mitchell said.

“It’s pretty impractical to snowmobile in a circle on your yard,” he said.

It’s not uncommon for police to receive complaints of snowmobilers in the city, especially after a blizzard, said Assistant West Fargo Police Chief Mike Reitan.

“Typically they are on the fringe areas of the city,” Reitan said, adding police often have problems with people riding snowmobiles outside city limits and then riding them back home instead of using a trailer.

People violating the city or-dinances face fines or possible jail time, depending on where the violation occurs. Fines range from $20 in Fargo, $100 in West Fargo and $140 in Moorhead. Impound fees may also be imposed.

Sledding at high speeds can also lead to problems with law enforcement. Riders on Clay County public land, such as a road ditch, who go more than 50 mph could be issued a speeding ticket, said Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist. There are no speed limits on private land, he said.

Snowmobilers caught riding on flood diversion property could also face a Class B mis-demeanor charge of operating a motor vehicle on flood pro-tective works – which carries up to a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail, Reitan said.

But enforcing the ordi-nances and catching snowmo-bilers violating them can be difficult, Mitchell said.

“We can’t go where they’re going with their snowmobile with our squad cars,” he said.

Forum reporter Dave Olson contributed

to this report. Readers can reach Forum reporter Brittany Lawonn at (701) 241-5541