We live in what sometimes seems as the ATV capital of the world. In this article, when I’m writing “ATV” I mean every four-wheel, all-terrain and utility vehicle. As most of you know, cities and counties may have ordinances allowing ATVs special street access in towns. Effective January 1, 2018 under Utah Code Ann. § 41-6a-1509, ATVs now have more legal access to highways as long as they meet the state and local legal standards. Below are the new law’s highlights:
Is my ATV street-legal? To be street-legal, make sure you have headlights, at least one tail light, brake light and rear red reflector, turn signals, braking system, horn, muffler, rearview mirrors, windshield or wear eye protection, and seatbelts for side-by-side riders. Tire requirements vary by type of all-terrain vehicle and can be found in the statute.
How do I make my ATV street-legal? Your ATV is street-legal once it has a safety inspection and complies with normal registration with the state. Contact your county DMV to complete this step.
Where can I legally ride my ATV? After registering, getting license plates, and having your ATV inspected, you can ride on roads that meet all of the following: the speed limit is less than 50 MPH, the road is located in a county with less than 700,000 people, and the road does not encounter an interchange using grade separation (such as with ramps, to access the interstate, or an intersection where the two roads are at different heights).
My city has ordinances about ATVs, does this new law affect those rules? It depends. The new law cannot restrict a rider from operating an ATV in accordance with local ordinances. This means if the local ordinances are more lenient than the state law, the local law overrides the state law. So, if your town allows ATV riding without the ATV needing a muffler or allows other off-highway vehicles on certain roads or permission to use certain roads at certain times, you are not breaking the state law if you do not meet the state law’s requirements as long as you are following the local ordinances.
What else do I need to ride my ATV? You must have a current driver’s license and insurance.
Am I old enough to drive my street-legal ATV? Unless you are in an area with a local ordinance stating otherwise, you must have your driver’s license, so you must be at least 16.
What if I speed, or drive my ATV where I should not, or have riders not complying with helmet laws? Regardless of where you feel you should or are physically capable of driving your ATV, if you drive your ATV on unapproved roads, in violation of federal laws or city ordinances, or in violation of this new statute, you can be faced with traffic infractions, civil and criminal fines, and possibly federal jail time.
As always, my column is not legal advice, instead merely insight into the law and legal profession. If you have a general question about the law or legal profession, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at 435.610.1431.
To be published in the April 18, 2018 Wayne & Garfield County Insider Local Lawyer column.