Morning Mix


Know the Law: Snowmobiling Laws

Posted at 11:10 AM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-24 11:10:31-05

With another season of snowmobiling in Michigan underway, as well as plenty of people still looking for a safe way to get out of the house, many Michiganders are hitting the state’s many snowmobile trails. Before heading out, you may want a refresher on Michigan’s snowmobile laws. Grand Rapids personal injury attorney returns this week to break down the basics.

Snowmobiles used outside of private land must be registered with the Michigan Secretary of state and display the proper registration on the machine. Registration is good for three years.

If you plan to operate your snowmobile on a snowmobile trail, you must obtain a trail permit. The trail permit must be displayed appropriately on the snowmobile above or below the headlight. Trail permits are good for one year.

Drivers do not have to have a Michigan driver’s license to operate a snowmobile. However, if your license is suspended or revoked, you are not allowed to operate a snowmobile.

Children between the ages of 12-17 who do not have a valid Michigan driver’s license should obtain a snowmobile safety certificate. Safety certificates are not necessarily required for kids under the supervision of an adult over the age of 21.

Michigan law establishes a number of snowmobile equipment standards and requirements.Below are a few of the basic equipment requirements:

  • Brakes – Snowmobiles in Michigan must be equipped with a specific type of brake that will allow the snowmobile to stop not more than 40 feet when traveling going 20 mph for an operator who weighs 175 pounds or more.
  • Helmets – Michigan has a very specific rule regarding snowmobile helmets. This law states that all passengers and riders of snowmobiles in Michigan must wear helmets that have been approved by the Department of Transportation.
  • Lights – All snowmobiles must have working headlights and taillights, which must be displayed at all times during the operation of the vehicle.

More helpful guidance regarding Michigan’s snowmobile equipment standards can be found at

So where are places people can ride a snowmobile now that it's registered?

  • Private property – Snowmobilers are allowed to operate their sled on their own private land. If you plan to operate your snowmobile on someone else’s private property, you must obviously get their consent first.
  • Near roadways – Michigan law allows for snowmobilers to ride in the right-of-way of a public highway in a single file line. Only in instances of one snowmobile passing another should there ever be two snowmobiles side-to-side.
  • Crossing roadways, bridges, and culverts— Snowmobilers can cross a roadway to get from one side to the other, provided that they yield to traffic and do so at a right angle to the road. Similarly, this rule applies when crossing a bridge or going over a culvert on a snowmobile.

If a snowmobiler doesn’t operate their snowmobile safely, they can open themselves up to liability. Not only can they be held liable for injuries in a civil claim, but they may also be subject to criminal liability in instances leading to serious injuries or death.

In summary, snowmobiling is mostly about using common sense and exercising safe driving.

To learn more, visit sinasdramis.comor call 616-301-3333.

This segment is paid for by Sinas Dramis Law Firm. Contents of the article provided by Sinas Dramis Law Firm Blog.