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Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 10:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Below is the text of a note I received from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency dated 1/3/2002. The note is a response to an incident I had with a national park manager. I was operating as a boat in an area that allowed boats, but not ATV’s. The manager wanted to take a stricter interpretation – denying me use as a boat because ATV’s were restricted. I wasn’t cited but was “chided;” even though the manager’s own office, which I visited earlier in the day with the Max IV, said operating the ATV as a boat was permitted. Luckily, I had already discussed this with the local Game and Fish personnel that said “if it’s in the water, it’s a boat.” To avoid this situation in the future, I decided to get clarification from the state department heads so I would not be denied “equal protection” in a field enforcement situation.

My interpretation of the below note is that if it is in water, regardless of the depth, it is a boat. If it is on land, it is an ATV. The note cautions against “alternating use” between a boat and ATV. I believe this means that if I have to cross dry land in an area that allows boats but not ATV’s, I better get out and push.

As an aside, my Max is registered as a boat, and has the proper safety equipment and lighting. If you operate on public waterways, I really think this is a requirement.

Anyway, I believe this note basically clarifies the use of amphibious ATV’s.

“Dear Mr. Bonner:

Both the federal and state definition of a vessel is ‘every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on the water.’ Therefore, there is no doubt that your MAX IV all terrain vehicle meets that definition while it is being used on the water. Further, all mechanically propelled vessels must be registered as a boat, carry the appropriate safety equipment, have the correct running lights for operation between sunset and sunrise, and abide by the rules of the road while on the water. Therefore, if your craft meets these terms, you may utilize your MAX IV at all times and in all places in which any other vessel may operate.

In a like manner, you may operate your MAX IV as an all terrain vehicle in any place and under any condition where other all terrain or off road vehicles may operate. Please note, however, that when using your vehicle as a boat, adjacent to areas where off road vehicles are prohibited, you must terminate the use of your vehicle in a like manner to traditional boats. Operating alternately in both a vessel mode and an all terrain mode in a flooded field, for example, in an area closed to all terrain or off-road vehicles would be in violation.

I hope this clarifies our interpretation of the laws concerning both boats and all terrain vehicles. Please feel free to contact us if you have future questions.”

The letter is signed by Ed Carter – Chief of Boating, and Sonny Richardson, Chief of Law Enforcement.

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