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Fines and Penalties

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When a person breaks the law, they may be given a summons to appear in court or a ticket. Most laws are “violations,” which may carry a penalty of up to $1,000. A few statutes are “misdemeanors” which are punishable by higher fines and/or one year in jail. Misdemeanors include refusing to stop for a
police officer, unauthorized use (stealing), removing or defacing signs, and a second offense for operating on railroad tracks, cemeteries or airports or for offenses for operating while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Some offenses carry a requirement to attend a Responsible Rider Safety course.

Any offense that occurs within a public right-of-way can be considered a motor vehicle offense and motor vehicle laws may apply. These may impact a person’s driver’s license privileges.

A registration can be revoked for breaking the law. If the vehicle is involved in an offense, the registered owner may be held liable.

MINORS: When a person under 16 years old breaks the law, the officer can have the vehicle towed and impounded for up to 24 hours. A summons may also be issued. If an adult has knowledge that a child under the age of 16 was operating the vehicle illegally, the adult may be liable for the actions of the child.


Loud snowmobiles and OHRVs are a primary cause of complaints from landowners and other trail users. All operators are encouraged to ride quiet vehicles. It is illegal to modify an exhaust system in any way that increases the noise level from that of the original stock muffler.

Snowmobile noise levels must comply with the manufacturer specifications as contained in the requirements of the Snowmobile Safety and Certification Committee approval. Trail bikes and ATVs cannot emit noise levels that exceed 96 decibels.

OHRVs designed for “closed course competition” may only be used at approved OHRV competitions, unless the OHRV is modified to meet all equipment requirements including muffler, spark arrestor and noise emissions.

Snowmobile and OHRV operators must submit to a sound level test when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer.

All motorized OHRVs (including trail bikes) operating in woodlands and that emit exhaust within 4 feet of the ground, must be equipped with a spark arrestor.


Every year in New Hampshire, many people are injured in OHRV or snowmobile crashes and collisions; some die.

Accidents often can be avoided by practicing safe and responsible operation. Besides alcohol, common contributing factors include inattention, inexperience, operating at excessive speeds, riding on thin ice, operating in unfamiliar areas, and failing to wear protective equipment.

Accidents must be reported if:

  • Anyone is injured or killed, or
  • Property damage of over $500 occurs.

A person who is involved in a reportable accident must:

  • Stop and give name, address and registration number to others who were involved in the accident or whose property was damaged;
  • Report accident to nearest Police Station; and
  • File a report with Fish and Game within 5 days. Accident report form can be found at

Financial Responsibility:

All provisions of the New Hampshire Financial Responsibility law shall apply to an OHRV or snowmobile operated on a public highway. Any person who fails to report an accident involving death or personal injury shall be guilty of a Class B felony.

OHRV or snowmobile insurance is not required to operate in New Hampshire, however, liability insurance protection is recommended.

Safety On Ice

Though all ice is potentially dangerous, the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., offers a “rule of thumb” on ice thickness: There should be a minimum of six inches of hard ice before individual foot travel, and eight to ten inches of hard ice for snow machine or All-Terrain Vehicle travel.

Be aware that ice can be weakened by objects frozen into it, because they hold the heat from the sun; avoid docks, large rocks and trees fallen onto the ice. Also avoid areas with springs or moving water under the ice.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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