Street Legal OHV Operation

During the most recent legislative session modifications were made to the existing laws governing the use of “street legal ATV’s”. UCA 41-6a-1509 was already in effect and allowed ATV’s to be licensed and registered as a motor vehicle. After passing a State Safety Inspection, ATV’s which meet the criteria set can be issued motor vehicle license plates. These changes were addressed in greater detail in HB 148 and SB 154. SB 154 removed the authority of cities with a population of 7,500 or greater, to restrict the use of street legal all-terrain vehicles within the city. Only cities in a county of the first class (Salt Lake County) may impose additional restrictions.

With these changes the Sheriff’s Office would like to clarify a few of the differences between a “street legal” registration and the common off highway vehicle registration.

State law still requires that all persons eight years or older must possess a valid OHV safety certificate or valid driver’s license to operate an OHV on any public lands within the State of Utah. Children under eight are prohibited from operating OHV’s on public land. The Sheriff’s Office is still dedicated to OHV safety and routinely offers our OHV Education Course to the public at no cost. Registration for the course is available on our website.

Although there is an increased convenience with being able to drive your “street legal” ATV on the roadways, it also limits its operation to some extent. Once registered as a motor vehicle (equipped with license plates), all state laws associated with motor vehicles apply. This includes the requirement of a valid driver’s license, insurance and seat belts. Although the vehicle is still capable of off highway operation, a minor with a valid safety certificate would not be able to legally operate the vehicle as it has been designated as a motor vehicle.
The motor vehicle registration type designates it as a motorcycle. The most typical type of OHV which is registered for street operation are type II ATV’s. The most common models are the Yamaha Rhino, Polaris Razr and Kawasaki Mule. The Sheriff’s Office recommends all passengers of any ATV wear an approved helmet during operation. State law however does not require the use of a helmet for passengers of a type II ATV which is equipped with a roll cage and registered as an off highway vehicle. However, once the vehicle is registered as a “street legal” ATV, then the helmet laws governing motorcycle use would apply. All persons under the age of 18 would be required to wear an approved helmet.

The Sheriff’s Office often receives questions about the operation of “street legal” OHV’s on the Interstate. Although the ATV has been registered as a motor vehicle, state law still prohibits their operation on Interstate Freeways and Limited Access Highways. According to UDOT, SR-7 which extends from exit two on Interstate 15, past the airport and beyond Sand Hollow Reservoir is the only highway designated as limited access. All portions of Interstate 15 are also prohibited.

UCA 41-6a-1509 specifically addresses the use of “street legal” ATV’s on the roadway. An important law to note is the section regulating speed. The statute limits the maximum speed to the lesser of 45 miles per hour or the posted speed limit. When driving on a highway where the speed limit exceeds 45, the operator must operate to “the extreme right” and be equipped with a reflector or reflective tape.

Ultimately the decision on how to register your ATV depends on your riding preference and individual needs. The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public that it is their responsibility to know the individual laws related to ATV operation in cities, town or county where they plan to recreate.