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  • Writer's pictureAlex Maltese

Is It Illegal to Drive an ATV on the Road in New York? Understanding State Laws

Many New Yorkers want to ride their ATVs across the entire state, especially when ATV season rolls around.

However, the number of accidents involving ATVs has grown considerably, and many riders wonder if they can operate these vehicles on New York roads without legal consequences. Here's what the state laws say.

Who Can Operate an ATV in New York?

Who Can Operate an ATV in New York?

According to New York State's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), people do not need a driver's license to operate an ATV in New York state. (On a related note, find out why New York has two license plates) However, there are some restrictions for operators under 16, including:

  • Drivers aged 10-15 may only operate an ATV under adult supervision

  • Without adult supervision, as long as they drive on lands owned by their parents or guardians

  • Without adult supervision, on lands where ATV operation is permitted, as long as the driver has passed a safety driving course by the DMV. (In these cases, operators must have a course completion certificate)

The DMV refers to "adult supervision" when the ATV operator is accompanied by a person aged 18 or older or someone aged 16-17 who holds an ATV safety driving course completion certificate from an approved provider.

Where and When to Drive an ATV Across Highways

According to DMV's regulations, a person may not operate an ATV on a highway unless it has been designated for ATV use by a state authority.

However, authorities often designate only part of a road between two off-highway trails to allow people to operate ATVs. Therefore, operators should check if the site has been set and posted for ATV use or ask the police to be sure.

Additionally, the DMV prohibits ATV operators from crossing a highway unless absolutely necessary. In that case, they should follow these rules:

  • Cross only at an angle of approximately 90 degrees as long as there are no obstructions preventing a quick and safe crossing

  • If the highway is divided, cross only where it crosses another street or highway

  • Come to a complete stop and yield the right of way to other cars on the highway before crossing

  • Avoid crossing an interstate highway or any controlled-access highway at any time

When Is it Prohibited to Operate ATV?

Besides those prohibitions regarding operating ATVs on highways, the DMV explains that operators cannot drive such vehicles in these conditions:

  • At a speed that is too fast or that could be considered a potential risk

  • When the rider is not sitting in the permanent regular seat

  • With one passenger unless the vehicle has more than one seat

  • Negligently or carelessly

  • On a highway, if the ATV has studded tires not suitable for automobiles

  • On public land, unless the land is designated for ATVs

  • Among others

Safety Measures and Equipment

ATV operators must also comply with regulations regarding safety equipment and measures. All drivers must have:

  • Brakes in good condition

  • Spark arrestor approved by the US Forest Service

  • A muffler that meets federal standards

  • Tires with at least 2/32 inch tread with no cuts, tears, dents, visible bulges, or exposed cords

  • Lighted white headlight

  • Red tail light when driving at night

What Happens When Someone Suffers an ATV Accident?

The DMV requires operators involved in ATV accidents to provide their personal information, including the name and address of the vehicle's owner, to injured people or to the police.

Additionally, drivers must show proof of insurance to those who may have suffered injuries as a result of their behavior on the road.

According to DMV's regulations, ATV operators must report to the police any accident involving death, personal injury, or damage estimated at $600 or more.

Personal Injury Lawyers Experienced in ATV Accidents Can Help

Anyone who has been injured in an accident involving an ATV can seek professional help from a personal injury attorney.

Personal injury professionals, especially those who specialize in ATV accidents, can help victims fight for their legal rights and seek compensation if they or their family members have been injured due to an ATV operator's carelessness or negligence.

Why Choose The Law Office of Carl Maltese?

A team of expert car accident attorneys in Long Island NY from The Law Office of Carl Maltese is ready to help all victims obtain the compensation they deserve.

Our firm's personal injury attorneys are ready to provide victims with the legal assistance they need and help them determine the course of action they should take to confront ATV operators who caused injury, death, or costly damage by violating New York traffic laws. They can also assist in addressing other traffic-related questions such as if it's illegal to pass on the right in New York.


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