Hunting & ATVs
A driver’s license is not required for adult riders, but a person with a suspended or revoked license may not operate any motor vehicle, including an ATV (VC 14601(a)). Riders under 18 years old must have completed an ATV safety course and have a certificate of completion in their possession while riding (VC 38503) or be supervised by an adult with an ATV safety certificate. Riders under 14 must also have direct supervision by an adult (VC 38504). Parents of youth riders who permit them to ride without a safety certificate may also be cited (VC 38504.1). ATV safety courses may be obtained by calling ASI at 800-887-2887, and motorcycle safety courses may be obtained through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Dirt Bike School at 877-288-7093.
All OHV’s that are transported on the highway or parked or operated on public land must be registered through DMV (VC 38020). Vehicles may be issued either a “green sticker” or a “red sticker.” Red sticker vehicles may only be operated during certain times of the year in some locations (CCR T13-2412(f)). Current Red Sticker riding seasons can be found on the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division website at www.ohv.parks.ca.gov. You will need to purchase a special “Non-Resident OHV Permit” if you are not a California resident AND your off-highway vehicle or snowmobile is not registered in your home state. For more information and to find out where these Non-Resident OHV Permits can be purchased and to get more information on the program, please see the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR Division) website at www.ohv.parks.ca.gov.
No person shall use, operate, or allow to be used or operated, any off highway motor vehicle on any forest-covered land, brush-covered land, or grass-covered land unless the vehicle is equipped with a spark arrester maintained in effective working order (VC 38335(a)).
OHV’s also must have a working muffler (VC 38365(a)) and brake system (VC 38335(a)). A headlight and taillight are required for night time operation (VC 38335/38345).
The operator of an off-highway motor vehicle shall be able to reach and operate all controls necessary to safely operate the vehicle (VC 38304). No person shall operate, ride, or be otherwise propelled on an all-terrain vehicle on public lands unless the person wears a safety helmet meeting requirements established for motorcycles and motorized bicycles (VC 38505). No operator of an all-terrain vehicle may carry a passenger when operating on public lands, unless the ATV is designed to carry a passenger (VC 38506). It is also unlawful to ride in the bed of a pickup truck, unless the bed is equipped with seats and safety belts (VC 21712). The speed limit is 15 mph for ATV’s and motorcycles when operated within 50 feet of a campground, campsite, or congregation of people or animals (VC 38305). ATV’s may not be ridden at any speed that is unsafe for the conditions. It is illegal to operate an ATV in a wilderness area (FGC 10740 or VC 38301.3) or any other closed area (VC 38301), or in a manner likely to cause damage to land, wildlife habitat, or vegetation (VC 38319).
Laws concerning alcohol and ATV’s reflect alcohol laws for regular motor vehicles. The same standard for driving under the influence of alcohol applies when riding an ATV (VC 23152). Also, open containers of alcohol are not permitted on ATV’s and alcohol must be transported in a locked container (VC 23225(a) (3)).
It is illegal to possess a loaded firearm on an ATV while on a public road or other way open to the public (FGC 2006). It is illegal to shoot at game from an ATV (FGC 3002) or to shoot from a public roadway (PC 374c).
Information about off-highway motor vehicle laws and riding opportunities can be found online at www.ohv.parks.ca.gov or at 916-324-4442.