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Nebraska Snowmobile Guide

This is a guide only. For sources, consult Nebraska statutes and official regulations

Registration

No snowmobile may be operated in Nebraska unless it is properly registered.

How To Register

Application for registration is made to the County Treasurer on a form prescribed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. A form is included in this pamphlet for your use. The application must include the name and address of the applicant; a description of the snowmobile, including color, manufacturer and identification number; signature of at least one owner, and the appropriate fee. Decals, issued by the County Treasurer, shall be affixed to the upper left-hand side of the cowling. Registration and decal will expire the last day of September two years from the year of issue.

Fees

  • $16.00 - Private owners other than dealers or manufacturers.
  • $50.00 - Dealers (snowmobiles used for demonstration purposes).
  • $200.00 - Manufacturers (snowmobiles operated for research, testing, experimentation or demonstration purposes.

What Not To Register

Registration is NOT required for snowmobiles that are (1) owned and used by the United States, another state or a political subdivision thereof; (2) registered in a foreign country and used here temporarily and (3) operated only on land owned or leased by the operator.

Snowmobiles properly registered in another state may be operated in Nebraska on a reciprocal basis.

Transfer Of Ownership

Registration is automatically cancelled when ownership of a snowmobile is transferred to another party. The new owner must register the snowmobile before operating it in Nebraska. Dealer and manufacturer registrations are not transferable.

Renewal

The certificate of registration and decal are valid for two years and expire the last day of September. Renewal becomes delinquent on October 1 for the year due.

To renew a registration, present the previous certificate, completed application and proper fee to the County Treasurer. If the old certificate is not presented, an additional fee will be charged.

Nebraska Snowmobile Trail Fund

Of the fees collected for each registration, 75 percent is deposited in the Nebraska Snowmobile Trail Cash Fund. These funds are then used by the Game and Parks Commission for the lease or purchase of property for snowmobile trails throughout the state and for planning, establishment, marking, operation, maintenance and enforcement of these trails. The Game and Parks Commission is authorized to set rules and regulations pertaining to the use and maintenance of designated snowmobile trails.

Operation

With proper registration and equipment and where not otherwise regulated by local authority, snowmobiles may be operated as follows:

  • On the surface of any street or road, except as listed in regulations established by the Nebraska Department of Roads (DOR). They must be operated: (1) on the right hand side of the road, (2) in the same direction as other traffic and (3) in accord with the rules and laws of the road, except those relating to required equipment or those which by their nature have no application.
  • On any public way, shoulder or inside bank or slope of any street, road or road right-of-way.
  • In the ditch or outside bank or slope of any street, road or road right-of-way.
  • Make a direct crossing of a street or highway at any hour of the day, providing that (1) the crossing is made at a right angle to the direction of traffic, (2) the snowmobile is brought to a complete stop before crossing, (3) the operator yields to all oncoming traffic, (4) crossing of a divided high- way is made only at an intersection and (S) crossing at night or during reduced visibility is made with both front and rear lights on.
  • On any public land, ice, snow, park right-of-way, trail or course, where designated and as regulated by the agency or governing body that controls the use of such area.
  • On private property with the permission of the owner. Lessee or operator of such property.

Unlawful Acts

It is unlawful to operate a snowmobile in Nebraska as follows:

  • On public lands, streets or roads where prohibited by local authority.
  • To enter or operate on private land without proper permission.
  • At a rate of speed greater than reasonable or proper.
  • In a careless, reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger persons or property.
  • While under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
  • Without lighted head and tail lights when required for safety.
  • In any tree nursery or planting in a manner which damages growing stock.
  • To hunt from or with a snowmobile.
  • To carry any firearm, bow or other projectile device on a snowmobile unless such is unloaded and in a carrying case. Under no circumstances may a shotgun or rimfire rifle be carried on snowmobiles.

Violations / Penalties

Violation of state snowmobile laws is a Class III misdemeanor. Maximum penalty, if convicted, is three months imprisonment, a $500.00 fine or both. No minimum penalty is established.

Violation of regulations established by the Game and Parks Commission is a Class V misdemeanor. Maximum penalty, if convicted, is a fine of $100. No minimum penalty is established. All peace officers of the state or any political subdivision, as well as conservation officers, are charged with enforcing snowmobile laws and regulations.

Reporting Accidents

If involved in an accident on public land, the snowmobile operator must give his name, address and registration number, in writing, to any injured person and/or the owner of any damaged property. Within 10 days of any accident that results in injury or death of a person or property damage in excess of $100, the operator of such snowmobile must file a written report, giving full details, with the director of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles.

Snowmobile Contests

Sponsored contests are permitted, provided written permission is obtained in advance by the sponsoring persons or group from the official or board that has jurisdiction over the highway or public road where the contest will be held.

Snowmobile Safety Certification

No person under 12 years of age shall operate a snowmobile unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or other person over 18 years of age.

Individuals 12 through 15 years of age may operate a snowmobile only if (1) they hold a valid Snowmobile Safety Certificate, (2) are accompanied by an person 14 years of age or older who holds a valid Snowmobile Safety Certificate, or (3) is accompanied by a person over age 18.

Snowmobile Safety Certificates are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles upon compliance with certain requirements. An application form is included in this pamphlet. Additional forms are available from the DMV.

An applicant must complete the form in its entirety, answering all questions to insure the individual is qualified and has the ability to operate a snowmobile. An applicant must then appear before a DMV examiner for vision testing and to prove physical ability to operate a snowmobile.

Snowmobile Safety Code

  • Be sure your snowmobile is in top mechanical condition at the beginning of the winter season and throughout the months of use.
  • Familiarize yourself with the snowmobile you are operating.
  • Wear sensible, protective clothing designed for snowmobiling.
  • Use a full-sized helmet with goggles or visor.
  • Avoid wearing long scarves. They may get caught in moving parts of the snowmobile.
  • Know the terrain you are going to ride.
  • Know the weather forecast and particularly the ice and snow conditions in the area.
  • Always use the buddy system.
  • Do not pursue domestic or wild animals.
  • If you ride at night, be sure your snowmobile has a properly operating lighting system.
  • Avoid areas where you are not familiar with the thickness of the ice or water currents.

Care of the Environment

  • Operate your snowmobile only on your own land, in areas open for its use, or on designated trails. Stay on the trails and do not wander from the established route.
  • Don't operate your snowmobile when there is not enough snow cover to protect ground vegetation.
  • In encounters with animals, stop and allow them to move off leisurely. Don't chase them or attempt to move closer for a better look.
  • Do not remove the factory-installed muffler to install one that makes more noise.
  • Be litter conscious. Adopt a ~carry in, carry out" policy. Take only pictures. Leave only footprints.
  • Honor all "no trespassing" signs, and ask per mission to drive on private property.
  • Respect the rights of anglers, skaters, skiers and others to enjoy their winter recreation.
  • Set an example as a safe, courteous and responsible snowmobiler.

Required Equipment

Every snowmobile operated on public areas in Nebraska must have the following equipment in good working order:

  • muffler
  • brakes
  • at least one headlight
  • tail light

a minimum of 16 square inches of reflector material on each side forward of the handle bars.

Game and Parks Commission Regulations

[ Complete List of Regulations ] Snowmobiles may be operated on state park or wildlife management areas only on designated trails, roadways and parking areas. Some wildlife management areas may be closed seasonally to public access.

Unless otherwise designated as closed, operation is also permitted during specified hours on the frozen surface of lakes on these state recreation areas: Bluestem, Branched Oak, Conestoga, Olive Creek, Pawnee, Stagecoach and Wagon Train in the Salt Valley; Box Butte, Calamus, Enders, Oliver, Willow Creek, Summit, Sutherland, Medicine Creek, Red Willow, Merritt, Sherman, Gallagher Canyon, Swan son, Fremont Lakes, Johnson Lake, Lake Maloney, Lake McConaughy, Lake Minatare, Lake Ogallala, Lewis and Clark Lake, Louisville Lakes, Rockford Lake and Walgren Lake.

Operation Of A Snowmobile

Operation of a snowmobile on a lake surface is at the sole risk of the operator. The Game and Parks Commission assumes no responsibility for the safety of such operation.

Snowmobile operators are responsible for inspecting the frozen lake surface for sufficient ice thickness (8 inches minimum) and for possible hidden hazards. Always be alert to the possibility of soft ice caused by flowing springs, streams, rivers and temperature variations.

Check out the ICE UP Map for local information on the ice conditions in your area.

Emergency Closure

The director of the Game and Parks Commission or his designated representative has the authority to close any state park area or portion thereof to snowmobile activity temporarily because of: insufficient snow cover (less than 4 inches), insufficient lake ice (less than 8 inches), safety, weather, resource protection, civil emergency, or other management considerations at the sole discretion of the Commission.

General Operation

Snowmobiles may not be operated in such a manner as to harass, drive or pursue wildlife. Speeds may not exceed that which is safe and reasonable when passing within 30 yards of any property, ice fishing shelter, trail head, boat ramp, immobile snowmobile, or person walking or fishing through the ice. In no case shall any person or persons operate a snowmobile so as to cause discomfort, hazard or damage to the person or property of others.

Snowmobiles may be operated on state park areas only from one-half hour before sunrise to 9 p. m. or as posted at the area. A valid Nebraska Park Entry Permit is required.

Operation is prohibited on any part of a designated area that has been marked off or otherwise posted as closed to snowmobiles.

Special Events

Special temporary permits may be issued by the director of the Game and Parks Commission to persons or organizations to conduct organized group outings, trail rides, rallies, and other similar events. Such permission may prescribe such restrictions or conditions as deemed advisable.

Responsibility on Leased Land

Snowmobilers are responsible for removing all refuse and garbage on land leased for snowmobiling. Operation on leased land is subject to all laws and regulations of the State of Nebraska pertaining to snowmobiling.

Land leased for snowmobile trails will be signed by the Commission. Snowmobilers must observe the signs and stay within the designated boundary.

Vehicle parking areas will be provided by the Commission at each leased snowmobile area. Motor vehicles are restricted to the designated parking areas.

Snowmobilers may not use leased lands from December 1-15 and March 15-April 30 when snow cover is less than 4 inches. From December 15 through March 14, snowmobilers are responsible for using discretion in regard to snow conditions for operation on these lands.

Nebraska Department of Roads Rules and Regulations

No snowmobile shall be operated at any time within the right of way of any interstate highway or freeway within this state.

No person shall operate a snowmobile within the right of way of any other road or highway on the State Highway System, except as listed below:

  • In crossing a State Highway, all crossings shall be made as provided in Chapter 60, Section 2013, Subsection 24 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes.
  • In snow emergencies which:
    • The road has been closed to motor vehicle travel by the Department of Roads and
    • Snowmobiles are the only practical mode of transportation to provide for the health and welfare of the public by performing such services as aiding stranded motorists, delivering medical supplies, fuel, food and livestock supplies and not for recreational purposes.
  • The snowmobile shall be operated only on the roadway of a closed segment of the highway, and shall comply with all licensing and insurance requirements and all applicable rules of the road as established for motor vehicles. As a registered contestant in an international or other sponsored snowmobile contest which has received prior approval of the Department of Roads.

Contest Permits

The sponsoring group must make application to the Department of Roads at least six months in advance of any proposed snowmobile contest to be held within the highway right of way.

The application shall contain the exact location at which the contest is to be held, including point of beginning and point of termination, the route for detouring traffic, the names of all contestants, and a signing plan that will comply with the requirements of the latest edition of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

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