Continuing in our series of articles analyzing the ATV laws in every state, which stemmed from this article, we are addressing the ATV laws in Alaska in this article. Unfortunately, I have never even been to Alaska, let alone ride quads there. Given my lack of knowledge, I reached out to Logan Wicken of Outpost Alaska in Fairbanks, Alaska. He was gracious enough to share his knowledge with us so we can better understand the legal requirements of owning and operating an ATV in Alaska.
Are you required to title your ATV?
There are no titles in Alaska for recreational vehicles, including ATVs. Instead, Alaska simple uses a MSO (Manufacturer Statement of Origin) where necessary.
Are you required to register your ATV?
ATV registration is required on all newly purchased ATV’s and Side by Side units. However, the actual tag provided with the registration says “Alaska Snowmobile Registration” therefore most customers register there ATV’s and Side by Side units, but simply place the decal on an inner storage box or a in a zip-lock bag within an onboard storage compartment for safe keeping. Naturally, this is to avoid defacing their property with an unaesthetically placed decal. This is a great tip to keep you proof of registration safe from weather and damage, but still on your quad if you ever need it.
Are you required to insure your ATV?
While Logan says Outpost Alaska always recommends that you carry insurance on any recreational vehicle you own, it is not actually required in most situations. In Alaska, the only time insurance is required on an ATV or other recreation vehicle is when you own a recreational vehicle that has a lien with a financial institution. In this scenario, all banks in Alaska require full coverage insurance to ensure the value of the loan. This is not surprising as it is standard operating procedure basically anywhere, but it is good to know if you are looking to finance your ATV. If that is the case, be sure to check out our guide to ATV financing before jumping in.
Is there a minimum operating age?
To operate a full size ATV or Side by Side in Alaska, you must be at least 16 years of age. The key here is the limitation is on full size ATVs. With youth models, you will be okay having younger kids operate them for the most part, but use your judgment to avoid getting in trouble or, worse, causing a serious accident. Check out this guide for helping you choose what size ATV to get your kid.
Are helmets required?
The state of Alaska does not enforce mandatory helmet usage on ATV’s or Side by Side vehicle operators. Unsurprisingly, Outpost Alaska always recommends and encourages helmet usage when operating any recreational vehicle, as do we here at ATV Man. Logan shared his belief that citations in Alaska for ATV use are ultimately left up to the discretion of the officer in contact with the vehicle operator. If an operator is driving erratically or being reckless, an officer would evaluate the level of risk and use that determine whether or not he/she should intervene with the vehicle operator. Obviously, someone driving recklessly without a helmet is more likely to draw the attention of an officer. If you are in need of a good helmet, check out our recommended gear.
What lands are open for riding?
The biggest issue with riding off highway vehicles in Alaska is that Alaska has a lot of private property that may look public or where the owner is not readily apparent. In those situations, you have to be careful not to ride over private land without authorization. On the other hand, Alaska is home to a lot of unregulated public land to accessible for ATV use, so you will have a little more freedom in most of Alaska than in other states. Because a lot of Alaska is Federal land as well, you should check out our guide to riding ATVs on Federal Land.
Generally, ATVs are not permitted bye driving on a public roadway; however, they may be driven on a roadway or shoulder of a highway only under the following circumstances:
(1) when crossing the roadway,
(2) if snow/ice conditions are such that other motor vehicles cannot use the road,
(3) if the highway is posted or otherwise designated as being open to off-highway vehicles, or
(4) if you are driving outside the shoulder of a non-controlled access highway in the same direction as traffic on the right side of the highway.
Do you need a drivers license to operate an ATV?
Unlike many states, you do not actually need an active driver’s license in the state of Alaska to operate an ATV. You must, however, be at least 16 years of age or older to operate an off-road vehicle in Alaska per national standards provided by the government.
Is there a limit as to what size machines youth may operate?
Yes! As we discussed above, you will need to make sure children under 16 are operating a machine appropriate for their size.
Are there any legal requirements for renting an ATV?
While most ATV rental places in Alaska will have there own set of policies, there are no legal requirements for renting an ATV in Alaska other than the person operating the ATV being proper operating age (16 year old).
Must the ATV be equipped with any special accessories?
Alaska does not require any special accessories be equipped on your ATV or Side by Side; however, Logan notes that a winch is always highly recommended when riding an ATV in Alaska. We tend to agree with that statement wherever you are riding and have a great winch we recommend as good balance between value and performance.
Are there required safety courses?
In general, Alaska does not require ATV operators to have undergone any specific safety training or to possess any such certificate of training. While there aren’t state requirements, specialty ATV safety courses are required for those in the military wishing to operate ATVs in Alaska. Given the large military population in Alaska, this is an important note.
Are there any general speed restrictions other than posted speed limits?
There are no general ATV speed limits in Alaska; however, certain cities or communities do have their own limitations you should be aware of.
Are there any prohibited modifications that you can’t make to your ATV?
Alaska does not have any specific modifications that are outlawed, but you probably have to use common sense and not do any stupid modifications that are going to draw the attention of enforcement officers.