OHV Rules and Laws
Overview. Each agency that manages land has its own rules, regulations and laws to enforce. Rules and laws change. Before riding or driving on lands, check with the appropriate agency about the rules and requirements. Most areas restrict OHV use to established routes. Some areas have seasonal closures to address erosion, watershed and wildlife habitat protection concerns.
Free OHV Laws, Rules and Regulations Guide. For OHV Rules and Restrictions, refer to the Arizona Game and Fish Department Guide to Arizona Off-Highway Vehicle Laws, Rules and Regulations. Call Game and Fish at (602) 942-3000 for a free guide or visit www.azgfd.gov for information on OHV rules and regulations.
Title and Registration. State motor vehicle laws apply on many backcountry roads; that means your vehicle must be registered and you must be licensed. A good rule of thumb is if a passenger car can use the road, your vehicle will need to be registered. Some roads and trails are open to unregistered recreational motor vehicles. Check with the local land management agency for information on road status.
Many vehicles are required to display a title plate. The "Off-Road" or “RV” plate hat you may have on your OHV is only an indication that the vehicle has been titled in the State of Arizona. It is NOT a registration plate and does not allow you to ride or drive on roads that require your vehicle to be registered.
Contact the Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle for more information on the documentation required, equipment, and inspections needed to register OHVs for “street or highway” use at (800) 251-5866 or visit www.azdot.gov/mvd. Contact adjoining states for information concerning what is required when riding or driving in those states.
Crossing Paved Roads Without Vehicle Registration. Local authorities may have jurisdiction on which paved streets and highways you can cross while riding or driving a vehicle that is not registered. Check with your local authorities such as the County Sheriff about current local regulations. If allowed to cross on a paved road, cross at a 90-degree angle where there are no obstructions and good visibility.
Out-of-State Visitors. If you are not a resident of Arizona and are visiting for a short duration of time you do not need an Arizona title plate to ride on public lands in Arizona, however, you need to follow the OHV title, registration, sticker and/or other requirements of your home state (see A.R.S. 28-2001 for definition of an Arizona resident). You must abide by all Arizona OHV Laws, Rules and Regulations.
Drugs and Alcohol. Use your judgment and sharp reflexes while riding or driving. Don’t drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is illegal!
Air Quality Rules and Regulations
Driving off-road vehicles on dirt and unpaved roads can stir up particulate matter which pollutes the air. New rules and ordinances are currently being adopted and enforced by cities and towns throughout Maricopa County. It is recommended that you visit either the Maricopa County Air Quality Department's Web site or local city site prior to venturing out on your next ATV or OHV excursion.
Tread Lightly! Hikers, bicyclists, equestrians and OHV recreationists all have certain things in common such as a love of the outdoors and the use of a motor vehicle in the pursuit of recreation. Knowing how to Tread Lightly!® is the responsibility of all recreationists. The Tread Pledge is simple:
- Travel only on trails.
- Respect animals, plants and people.
- Every time you go outdoors, think safety, bring a friend and be prepared.
- Always leave the outdoors better than you found it.
- Discover how fun the outdoors can be when you Tread Lightly.
Fore more information on Tread Lightly!®, visit www.treadlightly.org or call (800) 966-9900.
Get A Permit
State Trust Land. Arizona State Trust lands are NOT public lands. You must obtain a permit from the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) to be on State Trust lands. Recreational permits are available for individuals ($15), families ($20), non-profit groups and for specific events. Permits are valid for one year from the date of purchase. Permits are subject to certain terms and conditions such as vehicles may not be operated within 1/4 mile of any building or stock tank, leave gates as you found them open or closed and other terms. Restrictions may apply.
State land may be leased for grazing, commercial, or agricultural use. When recreating on State Trust lands, please follow the rules and keep in mind that someone else is making a living from that land. To apply for an ASLD Recreation Permit, call (602) 364-2753, download a permit application on-line at www.land.state.az.us, or visit the State Land Department office at 1616 W. Adams Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007. Indian Reservations. While several tribes provide excellent recreational opportunities, all travel in reservations is restricted to public roads unless you have a permit from the particular tribe. For a listing of tribal government contact information, visit the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs website at www.indianaffairs.state.az.us/tribes.html.
Private Property. Many dirt roads that you ride or drive on cross private property. Respect private property. Ask for permission before you ride on private land. Do not trespass. There can be civil and criminal penalties for violating trespass laws.