Biggest law breakers are ATV riders, snowmobilers, and boaters

During the 8-year period 2007 – 2015, game wardens gave more citations to ATV riders, snowmobilers, and boaters than any other outdoor group. ATV riders were the worst law breakers, getting a total of 4,863 citations for violating Maine’s laws.

Those citations broke out this way:
1,921 Operating unregistered ATV
1,229 Operating ATV on public way
433 Operating ATV on land without permission of landowners
413 Failure to display ATV registration numbers
247 Failure to present ATV registration
245 Unlawfully permitting operation of an ATV
220 Carrying a passenger on an ATV without headgear
155 Allowing minor to operate ATV in violation

Snowmobilers came in second for most violations, with 3,831, barely nosing out boaters. Those citations broke out this way:
1,862 Operating unregistered snowmobile
723 Violating snowmobile noise limits
636 Failure to provide and display snowmobile registration
449 Operating snowmobile left of center
161 Operating snowmobile on public way

Boaters received 3,503 citations, broken out this way:
1,930 Operate watercraft without safety equipment
840 Unregistered motor boat
274 No lake or river protection sticker
252 Registration numbers not displayed

207 Operating at greater than headway speed where prohibited
You may be forgiven for thinking that Maine Game Wardens are the revenue police. Many of their citations go to those who didn’t pay the agency for something.

I have my own warden story to go with this column. One spring, up to camp, a game warden approached me as I got into my boat to go fishing, informing me that I had not registered my boat before bringing it to camp. I’d forgotten.

But as he began to write a citation for my violation, I gazed over to the warden’s boat, which they kept at our camps, and noticed that it had not been registered. Warden boats are supposed to be registered too.

I pointed out to the warden that his boat hadn’t been registered either, and we both agreed to get our boats registered, as he put away his citation book without giving me a citation.

In my next outdoor news column, we’ll take a look at citations given to anglers and hunters.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.