Ohio New Laws for All-Purpose Vehicles...

Information on the new laws in the State of Ohio involving the ownership and use of all-purpose vehicles.

Whether you ride an ATV, a scooter, a mini-bike or own your own personal golf cart, you will want to read this new law very carefully, because it could affect you!!

Effective July 1, 2010, There are new laws governing the ownership and use of  all-purpose vehicles (APVs). The law’s license plate program will require APVs to display a license plate and validation sticker like other vehicles. APV operators will pay higher registration fees, but on-farm APVs used as a farm implement will be exempt from registration.

According to Ohio law, an “all-purpose vehicle” is “any self-propelled vehicle designed primarily for cross-country travel on land and water, or on more than one type of terrain, and steered by wheels or caterpillar treads, or any combination thereof, including vehicles that operate on a cushion of air, vehicles commonly known as all-terrain vehicles, all-season vehicles, mini-bikes, and trail bikes.” The definition of “all-purpose vehicle” does not include golf carts or utility vehicles that are designed to transport materials or cargo.

Below is a summary of the new law that will go into effect on July 1.

Criminal trespass with APVs. The law contains stiffer penalties for criminal trespass that involves an APV. Criminal trespass is the entering or remaining on another’s land without permission or privilege, and is a fourth degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $250 and jail time of up to 30 days. Under the new law, when a person commits criminal trespass using an APV, a court must double the fine. Where a person is convicted three times of criminal trespass using an APV, the court may also impound the registration and license plate of the vehicle for at least 60 days.

Registration exceptions. Ohio law currently requires registration of APVs, snowmobiles and off-highway motorcycles, with a few exceptions. The new law changes the exceptions that apply to APVs in two ways. First, the new law removes the registration exception for APVs operated exclusively upon lands owned by the owner or on lands to which the owner has a contractual right. This exception from registration will apply only to snowmobiles and off-highway motorcycles. Second, the law creates a new registration exception for APVs: an owner does not have to register an APV that is used primarily on a farm as a farm implement. The law also increases the penalties for operating an unregistered APV, snowmobile or off-highway motorcycle to no less than $50 and no more than $100.

License plate requirements. The new law requires operators of APVs to display a license plate and validation sticker rather than a registration number after July 1, 2010. An owner must display the license plate so that it is “distinctly visible” and in accordance with rules to be adopted by the Board of Motor Vehicles (BMV). After an owner obtains a license plate, the BMV will issue a new validation sticker to display on the license plate for each three-year registration period. The new license plate provision does not affect snowmobiles or off-highway motorcycles.

Registration fees. The new law increases the registration fees for APVs, snowmobiles and off-highway motorcycles from $5 to $31.25 for the three-year registration period. The registrar may retain up to $5 of the fee and must deposit the remainder into the state treasury for the state recreational vehicle fund, which also receives amounts from fines issued under the law. Purposes of the fund include enforcing and administering laws regarding registration and operation of snowmobiles, off-highway motorcycles, and APVs, purchasing additional land to provide trails and other areas for such vehicles on state-controlled land and waters, and providing safety programs.

Out of state driver’s licenses. The old law requires the operator of an APV, snowmobile or off-highway motorcycle to hold a valid driver’s license from the State of Ohio. The new law allows a person holding a driver’s license from another state to operate the vehicles.

Impoundment. The new law allows a court to impound the registration and license plate of an APV for no less than 60 days whenever a person is found guilty of operating the vehicle in violation of Ohio law.

See these Ohio Revised Code sections at http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/ for changes to APV law: O.R.C. 2911.21, 4519.02, 4519.03, 4519.04, 4519.08, 4519.09, 4519.10, 4519.44, and 4519.47.

Here is some more info for riders of ATV's in Ohio.

Ohio ranks 15th in the nation for ATV accidents. Yearly, an estimated 40,000 emergency-room cases are reported nationwide; one third of all injuries are to children less than 16 years of age. The state has developed strategies and programs to reduce injuries and deaths related to careless, inappropriate and risky ATV use.

Safe ATV riding depends on the rider’s ability to recognize hazardous riding conditions. It is possible to determine how safe a ride will be by first evaluating the rider’s personal abilities, the ATV capabilities, and then the terrain and environmental conditions.

It is not enough to just ride safely! There are certain laws that apply to riders. The following Ohio laws were created to provide an understanding between ATV riders and enforcement officers concerning the proper way to act while riding off-road. These laws protect people, property and the sport of ATV riding.

A drawing of riders on ATVs.

Operator’s license

In order to operate an ATV on any public land, waters or highways, one must hold a current motor vehicle driver’s or commercial driver’s license, motorcycle operator’s endorsement or probationary license.

All riders (passengers and operator) must wear a helmet and eye protection while on state forest riding areas.

No person under 16 years of age shall operate an ATV on any land other than private property unless accompanied by a parent or guardian who is a licensed driver 18 years of age or older.

Although not recommended, Ohio law permits ATV operators to:

Ohio law states that ATVs shall not be operated as follows:

The tread lightly logo.

Tread Lightly

Future opportunities for exciting travel with your recreation vehicle are in your hands. Take the pledge to tread lightly by:


ATV rider training courses are offered through the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America. Ask your local dealer about the program.