Snowmobilers reminded to obey the law

Published 2:55 pm Thursday, January 7, 2016

With snow finally finding its way into southwest Michigan and more to come, Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police Chief Tim Kozal wants to remind snowmobilers about following the laws.

One of those laws is a new noise ordinance.

“The DNR came down with something just recently that is going to address the noise of snowmobiles,” he said. “Basically when they are traveling, especially after midnight when they are close to private residences, they cannot emit a noise. That is against the law. There are noise ordinances that are specifically for that. Primarily, if you have a sled and you put an after market system on there it is going to be in violation of the noise and you will be ticketed.”

Kozal said the state has asked local law enforcement to make sure riders are obeying the noise ordinance.

“I had a meeting with the snowmobile club here locally and they are aware of it,” Kozal said. “However, a lot of members in the snowmobile club don’t have these type of sleds. It is just one of those things that is just about comfort of living. Residents should not have to listen to somebody with a loud exhaust going by their house at night.”

According to the DNR, a snowmobile manufactured after July 1, 1977, must be equipped with a muffler that does not exceed 78 decibels of sound pressure at 50 feet. Each snowmobile manufactured after July 1, 1980, must be equipped with a muffler that does not exceed 88 decibels.

“I just want to remind everyone to maintain their stock systems,” Kozal said. “It could be looked at either by us, the DNR or Cass County Sheriff’s Office. I think we have 12 miles of trails here just in the county.”

Kozal also reminds riders that they need a permit to operate a snowmobile on a trail and their sled must be registered.

“The thing about trail permits is that the funds raised goes back into maintaining trails and paying for the trails,” he said. “That’s when our guys are out there doing the proactive work they are looking for the trail permits and registration. They have to be decaled of we will see it.”

Helmets must be worn at all times while operating a snowmobile.

“It is not like a motorcycle,” Kozal added.

He reminds riders to be safe.

“We want to make sure people are out there having fun because that is what mainly a sled is for is having fun and the recreational part of it. There is signage on the trails that promote keeping it quiet. So when you are about to come up on a private residence and you see the signs, slow down so that your noise isn’t going to be bothersome.”

He said his department does not handle a lot of noise calls, but gets calls about riders using the right of way correctly.

“If you are going to be riding alongside a road you have to go with traffic not against traffic,” Kozal said. “You cannot be going down the middle of the road. It needs to be at the side of the road.”

Riders must also obey the speed limit and have a valid driver’s license. They are not allowed to go in excess of the posted speed.

The Ontwa Township-Edwardsburg Police Department also has a rescue sled, which was donated by a club up in Twin Lakes. It allows the department to pull it behind a snowmobile to respond to someone who may have been injured out on a trail.

“That is a great addition to have here in Cass County,” he said.