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State regulations on use of OHVs on public roadways

A State survey of regulations and policies regarding off-highway vehicles on public roadways.


States: Can you please let me know how you regulate OHVs that are street legal for non-DOT tires on paved roads. Examples: Is 55mph and less okay for non-DOT where over 55mph require DOT tires? No ATC, UTV, or ATVs on interstate or intrastate, or highway by rule?

--Amy Racki, Off-Highway Vehicle Coordinator, Arizona State Parks


TO: State Trail Administrators and selected OHV Organizations

Please see the request below from Amy Racki in Arizona. We had a discussion about this at the National Association of OHV Program Managers meeting yesterday here in Charleston WV, and did not come to conclusions: we see some positives (access into towns where there are OHV services), but some serious concerns about safety: OHVs are not intended for street use, and OHV tires aren't meant to handle pavement, especially curves on wet pavement (as I experienced on a short section of paved road between the Hatfield McCoy trail system and downtown Williamson WV: I slid a bit around a curve, nothing serious because I was going slowly).

Please, if you have ideas for Amy, please provide the ideas to her.

CALIFORNIA — unauthorized street-legal status

In CA there are no dirt bike or ATV or RUV conversions to street legal allowed because the Air Resources Board will not allow a motor certified for off-road use to be allowed street-legal status. They view that as a lowering of air quality controls.

-- Tom Bernardo -

IDAHO — DOT approved w/ license plate & if designated by unit of gov't

Currently, ATV riders in Idaho are able to obtain a license plate for street use. They are not really legal unless they have DOT approved equipment. We do have communities hear in Idaho that do allow some ATV use on paved streets. They basically designated these routes for ATV use.

We did have a bill that would have clarified the situation, but it died in the Senate Transportation Committee. I have the link to the bill below. I imagine that we will eventually adopt something like the bill in a few years.

Jeff Cook, Outdoor Recreation Analyst, Lands
Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation
P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0065 - (208) 514-2483

WISCONSIN — if designated by unit of gov't w/ exceptions

ATVs may use roadways for travel if the unit of government, usually a town in Wisconsin, passes an ordinance and appropriately signs the road as an ATV route. Generally the speed limits that attach to the roads apply, although towns do have the ability to set lower speed limits for ATVs. State law does not permit routes to occur on freeways.

P Larry Freidig, Manager, Motorized Recreation Grant Programs
Bureau of Community Financial Assistance, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
phone: (608) 266-5897 - fax: (608) 267-0496 - e-mail:

ILLINOIS — unauthorized on roadways w/ exceptions

Off-highway vehicles (atv's) are completely banned from using public roadways in Illinois, with the following exceptions:

They can cross a roadway at a 90 degree angle, after coming to a complete stop, and in a safe manner; they can operate on county, township, road district, city, village or incorporated town roads IF the unit of local government has adopted an ordinance or regulation allowing the operation and posted the roads with signs prescribed by the Illinois Department of Transportation. (NONE have been so designated.)

Last year, there was a bill introduced that would allow operation on township and county roads statewide, but it never got out of committee. This year, a bill has been introduced that will, if passed and signed into law, allow use on county or township roads while traveling between a house and field, or field to field, while engaged in farming.

David Sellman
Division of Grant Administration, IL Dept. of Natural Resources

UTAH — if designated by unit of gov't w/ exceptions

State law in Utah allows the operation of ATVs on any road that is designated open to OHV use by the controlling federal, state, county or municipal agency having jurisdiction over that road. Road surface type is not addressed in state law. Nor is tire type addressed in the law. The only exceptions to the authority for an agency to designate a road for OHV use is in the case of interstate highways and controlled access highways. Those two classes of roads are off limits to off-highway vehicles.

We've had good success with county and municipal governments designating roads. The benefits for economic development are obvious, as are the benefits to the recreational rider who may be traveling from locale to locale and needs access to services. We are concerned about a wholesale opening of paved highways for all the reasons that have been stated (tire type, no rear differential, speeds, etc).

Fred M. Hayes, Utah Off-Highway Vehicle Program Coordinator
1594 West North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114
801-538-7435 -


  • Safe use of ATVs does not include use on hard paved surfaces.
  • Try to reach Tom Yager at SVIA with any concerns you have.
  • Use on paved surfaces should not be encouraged.

Deborah Napier, Golden Mean Sports Consulting, Golden, Colorado


photo of ATVs on trail

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