ATV Laws in the United States

Quads, four-wheelers, ATVs - no matter what you call them, they're growing in popularity with teens and young adults. To keep riders safe, states have different laws that are important to know if you're headed for a vacation, a cross-country tour, or just a weekend in the outdoors.

To learn the ATV laws in your home state, click on the map or find your state below:

Ohio ATV Law

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4519.20 Rules for equipment of snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles and all-purpose vehicles.
ATVs must be equipped with at least one headlight having a minimum candlepower of sufficient intensity to reveal persons and objects at a distance of at least one hundred feet ahead under normal atmospheric conditions during hours of darkness. ATVs must be equipped with at least one red tail light having a minimum candlepower of sufficient intensity to be plainly visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear under normal atmospheric conditions during hours of darkness. ATVs must be equipped with a muffler system capable of precluding the emission of excessive smoke or exhaust fumes, and of limiting the engine noise of vehicles.

§ 4519.40 Prohibitions on use.
ATVs may not be operated on any limited access highway or freeway or the right-of-way thereof, except for emergency travel only during such time and in such manner as the director of public safety shall designate. ATVs may not be operated on any private property, or in any nursery or planting area, without the permission of the owner or other person having the right to possession of the property. ATVs may not be operated on any land or waters controlled by the state, except at those locations where a sign has been posted permitting such operation. ATVs may not be operated on the tracks or right-of-way of any operating railroad. ATVs may not be operated during the time from sunset to sunrise, unless displaying lighted lights.

§ 4519.41 Permitted uses.
ATVs may be operated:

  • To make a crossing of a highway
  • On highways in the county or township road systems whenever the local authority having jurisdiction over such highways so permits;
  • Off and alongside a street or highway for limited distances from the point of unloading from a conveyance to the point at which the ATV is intended and authorized to be operated;
  • On the berm or shoulder of a highway, county or township road.

§ 4519.44 Operator licensing.
License required to operate ATV on street or highway, or on public land or waters. No person younger than 16 years of age may operate an ATV unless accompanied by a licensed adult 18 years of age or older or on private land owned or leased by a parent or guardian. The department of natural resources may permit such operation on state controlled land under its jurisdiction when such person is less than 16 years of age and is accompanied by a parent or guardian who is a licensed driver 18 years of age or older.

Pennsylvania ATV Law

Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7711.1. Registration of snowmobile or ATV, § 7712.1. Certificate of title for snowmobile or ATV.
All ATVs must be titled and registered. Every ATV must have its own numbered plate, and you must renew the registration every two years.

§ 7721. Operation on streets and highways.
Generally, it is unlawful to operate a snowmobile or an ATV on any street or highway which is not designated and posted as a snowmobile or an ATV road by the governmental agency having jurisdiction. A snowmobile or an ATV may be operated on highways and streets:

  • During periods of emergency when so declared by a policy agency having jurisdiction.
  • When necessary to cross a bridge or culvert.

An ATV may make a direct crossing of a street or highway.

§ 7724. Operation on private or State property.
No person may operate a snowmobile or an ATV on State-owned property except on clearly marked and previously designated snowmobile or ATV routes or as expressly permitted by the Commonwealth.

§ 7725. Operation by persons under age sixteen.
No one under the age of 8 can operate an ATV on state-owned land. No one between the ages of 8 and 15 may operate an ATV unless it is on a parent's or guardian's land, or the individual has participated in an ATV safety training course and has a safety certificate, of if they are under direct supervision of a certified ATV safety instructor during the course. No one under the age of 16 may cross a highway or ride on a designated road unless they have a safety certificate and are accompanied by an adult age 18 or older.

§ 7726. Operation in safe manner.
No person may operate a snowmobile or an ATV in any of the following ways:

  • At a rate of speed that is unreasonable or improper under existing conditions or in excess of the maximum limits posted for vehicular traffic.
  • In any careless way so as to endanger the person or property of another.
  • While under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance.

Operators and passengers must wear helmet.

§ 7727. Additional limitations on operation.
It is unlawful to operate or ride in any snowmobile or ATV with any bow and arrows or with any firearm in his possession unless it is unstrung or unloade, or to drive or pursue any game or wildlife with a snowmobile or an ATV.

§ 7730. Liability insurance.
A snowmobile or ATV for which registration is required under this chapter must have liability insurance coverage for the snowmobile or ATV issued by an insurance carrier authorized to do business in this Commonwealth. This subsection does not apply to limited registrations.

§ 7741. Head lamps and tail lamps.
Every snowmobile or ATV operated during hours of darkness must display a lighted head lamp and tail lamp. The lights shall be in operation during the period of from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise and at any time when, due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions caused by fog or otherwise, other persons, vehicles and other objects are not clearly discernible for a distance of 500 feet ahead. The head lamp must display white light of sufficient illuminating power to reveal any person, vehicle or substantial object at a distance of 100 feet ahead. The tail lamp must display a red light plainly visible during darkness from a distance of 500 feet.

§ 7742. Brakes.
It is unlawful to operate an ATV which is not equipped with a braking system which may be operated by hand or foot, capable of producing deceleration of 14 feet per second on level ground at a speed of 20 miles per hour.

§ 7743. Mufflers and noise control.
It is unlawful to operate a snowmobile or an ATV which is not equipped at all times with a muffler in good working order which blends the exhaust noise into the overall snowmobile or ATV noise and is in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise.

Virginia ATV Law

Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-679.1. All-terrain vehicles. Registration.
No person shall be required to obtain the registration certificate, license plate and decals, or pay a registration fee for any all-terrain vehicle.

§ 46.2-915.1. All-terrain vehicles and off-road motorcycles; penalty.
No ATV may be operated on any public highway, or other public property, except as authorized by proper authorities to the extent necessary to cross a public highway by the most direct route. No ATV may be operated by any person under the age of 16, except that children between the ages of 12 and 16 may operate all-terrain vehicles powered by engines of no more than 90 cubic centimeters displacement and children less than 12 years old may operate all-terrain vehicles powered by engines of no more than 70 cubic centimeters displacement. Operators must wear protective helmet No ATV may be operated on another person's property without written consent. No ATV may be operated with a passenger unless designed and equipped to be operated with more than one rider. Does not apply to farming activities or to members of the household or employees of the owner or lessee of private property on which the ATV is operated.

§ 46.2-644.1. Titling of all-terrain vehicles and off-road motorcycles.
Every owner, of any all-terrain vehicle powered by a gasoline or diesel engine displacing more than 50 cubic centimeters and purchased as new on or after July 1, 2006 must obtain title.

West Virginia ATV Law

W. Va. Code, § 17F-1-1. Acts prohibited by operator; penalties for violations W. Va. Code, § 17F-1-1.
Title required by law. Minimum age 18 unless in possession of safety certificate. Must have muffler and spark arrester. Helmet required for persons under age 18. More than one passenger prohibited and passenger under age 18 prohibited unless operator has specified driver's license or is at least 18, unless ATV is designed to carry a passenger. No ATV may be operated anytime from sunset to sunrise without an illuminated headlight or lights and taillights. No ATV may be operated on any interstate highway except by public safety personnel responding to emergencies. No ATV may be operated on any road or highway with a center line or more than two lanes except for purpose of crossing the road, street, or highway if the headlight and taillight are illuminated when the crossing is made if the vehicle is so equipped. An all-terrain vehicle may, for the sole purpose of getting from one trail, field or area of operation to another, be operated upon the shoulder of any road, street or highway, other than an interstate highway, for a distance not to exceed ten miles, if:

  • The vehicle is operated at speeds of twenty-five miles per hour or less; and
  • The vehicle is operated at any time from sunset to sunrise, the all- terrain vehicle must be equipped with headlights and taillights which must be illuminated

Does not apply if the all-terrain vehicle is operated exclusively on lands owned or leased by the vehicle owner or on private lands of others with the owner's permission. § 17F-1-5 Does not apply to the use or operation of all-terrain vehicles for lawful non-recreational commercial purposes, including, but not limited to, farm use, oil and gas operations, timbering, surveying and public utilities access. § 17F-1-6.

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