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All Terrain Vehicle Safety Laws by State

All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Safety Laws by State

1/14/2014

States with Laws

NCSL Contact

Anne Teigen

ATV in sand dunesAll Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) fall outside of federal highway safety regulations, and are instead regulated by the states. As such, a patchwork of regulations exists across the United States, with states setting varying standards for required safety equipment, operator licensing, the number of allowed passengers, and the minimum age of the driver. View this new Transportation Review on "All-Terrain Vehicle Safety" (January 2014).

This chart summarizes these laws in the states that have enacted them.

Alabama

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Foster parents are required to equip their foster children with a helmet and seatbelt while operating or riding in an ATV.

Alaska

Minimum Age Requirement: Children on certain public lands must be 14 years old to operate an ATV unless they are supervised by an adult.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Children under 18 operating ATVs on public lands without adult supervision must have a safety certificate.

Arizona

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on public lands.

Arkansas

Minimum Age Requirement: Children under 12 years old may not operate an ATV unless supervised by an adult.

California

Minimum Age Requirement: Children aged 14 or under may not operate an ATV on public lands unless they are with a parent or an adult authorized by their parent to supervise them. Either the child or the supervising adult must possess as safety certificate. To operate a vehicle on public lands, a rider between the ages of 15 and 18 years old must possess a safety certificate or be supervised by an adult with a safety certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders must wear an approved helmet when riding on public lands.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators on public lands may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to safely carry more than one occupant.

Colorado

Minimum Age Requirement: No person under age ten may operate an ATV on any public street, road, or highway unless under the immediate supervision of an individual who holds a valid driver’s license.

Connecticut

Minimum Age Requirement: To ride an ATV on public lands, the operator must be at least 12 years old and be supervised by an adult with a safety certificate. To ride without adult supervision the operator must be at least 16 years old or possess a safety certificate.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: All ages operating ATVs on public lands must have a safety certificate. Operators under 18 must complete a safety course.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV definition specifies single rider use only.

Operator’s License Requirement: An operator’s license is required to cross a highway or to operate an ATV on highways

Passenger Prohibitions: There is no passenger limit.

Delaware

Age Requirement: A person under age 12 may not operate an ATV without direct adult supervision unless the land is owned by the operator’s parent or legal guardian.

Florida

Minimum Age Requirement: To ride an ATV unsupervised in Florida, operators must be 16 years old. To ride on public lands, riders must have a safety certificate.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Operators under 16 years old riding ATVs on public lands must have a safety certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Helmet and eye protection are required for all riders under age 16 while operating an ATV on public lands.

Passenger Prohibition: ATV operators on public lands may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

Idaho

Minimum Age Requirement: ATV operators under age 16 on public lands must be supervised and have taken a safety certification course.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on public lands.

Indiana

Minimum Age Requirement: To ride an ATV unsupervised, operators must be 14 years old.

Operator’s License Requirement: An operator’s license is required to cross a highway or to operate an ATV on highways.

Iowa

Minimum Age Requirement: Riders in Iowa must be at least 12 years old to ride on public lands, unless they are supervised. To ride unsupervised on public lands, they must be 18 years old or possess a safety certificate.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Operators under age 18 riding ATVs on public lands must have a safety certificate.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

Operator’s License Requirement: An operator’s license is required to cross a highway or to operate an ATV on highways.

Kentucky

Minimum Age Requirement: To ride an ATV over 70cc, riders must be 12 years old. Unless supervised, a rider must be 16 years old to operate an ATV over 90cc.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: An approved helmet is required for all riders under age 16. The wearing of an approved helmet is also required for riders over age 16 when operating on public lands for reasons other than agriculture or another exempted activity.

Operator’s License Requirement: An operator’s license is required to cross a highway or to operate an ATV on highways.

Maine

Minimum Age Requirement: An ATV operator must be at least 10 years old. To ride unsupervised a rider must be 16 years old or possess a safety certificate.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Riders aged between 10 and 15 years must have a safety certificate to ride ATVs in the state.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 must wear an approved helmet.

Maryland

Minimum Age Requirement: On certain public lands in Maryland, ATV operators must be at least 12 years old.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders must wear an approved helmet when riding on certain public lands.

Operator’s License Requirement: On specified public lands, ATV operators must have a permit or operator’s license, unless they are accompanied by a licensee or parent.

Massachusetts

Minimum Age Requirement: The minimum age to operate an ATV under 90 cc is 12 except in authorized events. The minimum age to operate an ATV over 90cc is 16.

Safety Certification Requirement: ATV operators under age 18 must complete an operator safety and responsibility program and carry a certificate of completion while riding.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: All riders must wear an approved helmet in Massachusetts.

Michigan

Minimum Age Requirement: Children under 16 years old must have a safety training certificate and be under the direct visual supervision of an adult to operate an ATV. No one under 16 may operate a three-wheeled ATV. No one under 10 may operate an ATV except while performing farm work. No one under 12 may cross a highway or street on an ATV.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Riders under age 16 must have a safety certificate to operate an ATV, except at authorized events.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: All riders must wear a helmet and eye protection in Michigan.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

Operator’s License Requirement: For riders under age 18, an operator’s license is required to cross a highway or to operate an ATV on highways, unless they are supervised or a safety certificate is possessed.

Minnesota

Minimum Age Requirement: The minimum age to operate an ATV on public lands is 10 years old. To operate an ATV over 90cc on public lands, a rider must be 12 years old. To operate an ATV unsupervised on public lands, a rider must be 16 years old or possess a safety certificate.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Safety certificates are required when riding on public lands, for people born after a specified date. Riders age 12-15 are not authorized to use the certificate for ATVs larger than 90cc unless the course was specifically designed for this purpose and the rider is large enough to reach the handlebars and foot pegs.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on public lands.

Passenger Prohibitions: A parent may carry one passenger under age 16; a person over age 18 may carry one passenger over the age of 16.

Mississippi

Safety Education Certification Requirement: A safety education certificate is required unless the operator possesses a valid state driver’s license.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 16 are required to wear an approved helmet.

Missouri

Minimum Age Requirement: To ride an ATV unsupervised, the operator must be at least 16 years old unless riding on land owned by the operator’s parent or legal guardian.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 are required to wear an approved helmet.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant, unless the vehicle is being used for an excepted activity such as agriculture.

Montana

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators on public streets and highways may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to safely carry more than one occupant.

Safety Certification Requirement: All riders under age 16 are required to complete an approved ATV safety course and carry certification of completion while riding on public roads.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 on public streets and highways must wear an approved helmet.

Nebraska

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

Nevada

Operator’s License Requirement: Certificate of operation is required for the use of ATV’s on highways.
 
Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Helmets are required for the operation of ATVs on highways.

New Hampshire

Minimum Age Requirement: Unless they are supervised or possess a safety certificate, the minimum age for children to operate an ATV is 14.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Riders under age 14 must have a safety certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 are required to wear eye protection and an approved helmet.

Passenger Prohibitions: Operators under age 18 may not carry passengers.

Operator’s License Requirement: An operator’s license is required to cross a highway or to operate an ATV on highways unless a safety certificate is possessed.

New Jersey

Minimum Age Requirement: In New Jersey, no one under 16 may purchase an ATV over 90cc. To operate an ATV on public lands, the rider must be at least 14 years old. To operate an ATV over 90cc on public lands, the rider must be 16 years old.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Riders under age 18 on public lands that are not using their ATV for agriculture or other exempt activities, and are not at an exempted event, must possess a safety certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: All riders are required to wear an approved helmet.

New Mexico

Minimum Age Requirement: Children must be at least 6 years old to operate an ATV in New Mexico. Children must be at least 10 years old to ride an ATV without supervision within New Mexico state boundaries, unless they are supervised or are on an age-approved ATV. Operators under 18 years of age must be supervised when riding on public lands.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Operators under 18 years old on public lands must have a safety certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: All riders under age 18 are required to wear an approved helmet on public lands.

Passenger Prohibitions: Operators under age 18 on public lands may not carry passengers.

New York

Minimum Age Requirement: The minimum age to operate an ATV is 10 years old, unless the rider is supervised. Those between the ages of 10 and 16 may ride unsupervised only if they have a safety certificate.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Children aged 10-15 years who are not supervised must have a safety certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: All riders are required to wear an approved helmet.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

North Carolina

Minimum Age Requirement: To operate an ATV in North Carolina, a child must be at least 8 years old. The sale of an ATV for use by those less than 8 years old is prohibited. To operate an ATV over 70cc, the child must be 12 years old. To operate a 90cc ATV, a child is required to be 16 years or supervised by an adult. *The cc restrictions only apply to children born after 8/15/1997 and to vehicles purchased after 8/15/2005.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Persons born after 1/1/1990 must have a safety certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Eye protection and helmets are required except on beaches open to ATV use.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

North Dakota

Minimum Age Requirement: While a child may operate an ATV at age 12, they may not operate it unsupervised until they are 16 years old, unless they have a safety certificate.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Riders under age 16 must have a safety certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 are required to wear an approved helmet.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

Operator’s License Requirement: An operator’s license is required unless a safety certificate is possessed.

Ohio

Minimum Age Requirement: Aside from some public lands that allow riders as young as 12 to operate ATVs, the minimum operating age in Ohio is 16, unless the rider is supervised.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Helmet and eye protection are required for all riders on specified public lands.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators on certain public lands may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

Operator’s License Requirement: An operator’s license is required on public lands.

Oklahoma

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on public lands.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators on public lands may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

Operator’s License Requirement: An operator’s license is required to cross a highway or to operate ATVs on highways.

Oregon

Minimum Age Requirement: ATV's driven in Oregon must be fitted properly for the operator’s body size. To operate an ATV in the state, riders need to be at least 16 years old or supervised by an adult with a safety certificate. To operate an ATV on public lands, riders must be at least 16 years old and possess a safety certificate.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Riders under age 16 operating an ATV on public lands must have a safety certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on public lands except if the ATV is operated for an exempted activity such as agriculture.

Pennsylvania

Minimum Age Requirement: To ride an ATV on public lands in Pennsylvania, operators must be 8 years old at a minimum. To operate a 70cc or larger ATV on public lands, riders must be 10 years old. Unless a safety certificate is possessed, the rider must be 16 years old to operate without supervision.

Safety Certification Requirement: Riders between the ages of 8 and 15 must have a safety certificate, unless riding on land owned by the operator’s parent or legal guardian.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: All riders are required to wear an approved helmet.

Rhode Island

Minimum Age Requirement: On specific public lands, riders in Rhode Island must be at least 12 years old. To ride without supervision on certain public lands and to operate ATVs on highways, riders must be 16 years old. It is illegal to sell an ATV to anyone under age 16.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Riders under age 16 and first time ATV owners must have a safety certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: All riders are required to wear an approved helmet.

Operator’s License Requirement: An operator’s license is required for riders aged 16-18 to cross a highway.

South Carolina

Passenger Prohibitions: Operators under age 16 may not carry passengers.
 
Safety Certification: Operators under age 15 must complete the “hands on” ATV safety course and carry a certificate of completion while riding.
 
Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Operators under 16 years of age must wear a helmet and eye protection.
 
Minimum Age Requirement: The minimum age to operate an ATV on private land is six years old. A person under age 16 may not operate an ATV on private land in violation of the age restriction warning label affixed by the manufacturer. A person under the age of 16 may not operate an ATV on public lands unless accompanied by an adult.

Tennessee

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 must wear an approved helmet. All riders must wear a helmet and eye protection at all times.

Texas

Minimum Age Requirement: No child under age 6 may operate an ATV on public lands. All operators under age 14 are required to be directly supervised by a parent/guardian or a person over the age of 18 who is authorized by the child's parents/guardians. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 are limited to operating an ATV with an engine size 70cc or smaller. Children 12-15 are limited to operating an ATV with an engine size 90cc or smaller.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Riders on public lands in Texas must have a safety certificate unless they are supervised by an adult that has a certificate.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Eye protection and helmets are required on public lands.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators on public lands may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

Utah

Minimum Age Requirement: To ride on public lands in Utah operators must be 8 years old. To operate without supervision, riders must be 16 years old or have a safety certificate. To cross highways or to operate the ATV on highways, riders must be 16 years old or be supervised.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Riders on public lands in Utah must have a safety certificate unless they have a valid state driver’s license.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 must wear an approved helmet.

Operator’s License Requirement: An operator’s license is required on public lands unless a safety certificate is possessed.

Vermont

Minimum Age Requirement: Riders in Vermont must be 12 years old or be supervised to operate ATVs. To cross a highway or to operate an ATV on a highway, riders must be at least 12 years old and, if they are under 16 years old, supervised by an adult. Unless they possess a safety certificate, a rider under 18 years old may operate an ATV only on his or her own property, the property of a parent or guardian, or under the supervision of a certified safety instructor

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Persons under age 18 must have a safety certificate to operate an ATV in Vermont.

Virginia

Minimum Age Requirement: If a rider is 12 years old or older they may operate an ATV of 70cc or larger. To operate a 90cc or larger ATV, riders must be 16 years old.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: All riders are required to wear an approved helmet.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant.

Washington

Minimum Age Requirement: To cross a highway or to drive an ATV on a highway, operators must be 13 years old. On specified lands, riders that are not at least 13 years old must be supervised by an individual who is at least 18 years old and holds a valid driver’s license.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: All riders must wear an approved helmet except if the ATV is operated for an exempted activity such as agriculture.

West Virginia

Minimum Age Requirement: Riders under 18 years old must be supervised if they do not have a safety certificate.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: Operators under age 18 must have a safety certificate in West Virginia.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 18 must wear an approved helmet.

Passenger Prohibitions: ATV operators may carry a passenger only if the vehicle is designed to carry more than one occupant. Carrying more than one passenger is prohibited for those under 18, as is carrying a passenger under age 18, unless the driver has at least a level two intermediate driver's license or its equivalent.

Wisconsin

Minimum Age Requirement: No one under age 12 may operate an ATV on public lands, unless operating a 4 wheel ATV with an engine size 90cc or less on a designated ATV trail and accompanied by a parent. No one under age 12 may operate an ATV on a public roadway.

Safety Education Certification Requirement: ATV safety education certification is required for all riders who are at least 12 years old and born on or after January 1, 1988. Riders who are older than 12 may operate an ATV for agricultural use without certification, unsupervised, and unaccompanied, on lands under the management and control of the operator’s immediate family.

Helmet and/or Eye Protection Requirement: Riders under age 12 must wear a helmet when operating an ATV on public lands but are not on private land owned by the operator’s immediate family. Riders under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet when operating an ATV on public lands except when traveling for the purpose of hunting or fishing.

Wyoming

Helmet Requirement: Operators under age 18 are required to wear a helmet while operating an ATV on a state designated ATV road.
 
 

Note: States not listed in this chart do not have applicable statutes at the time of writing.

Information used on this page is from the following sources:  Special Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) and StateNet

 

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