Arkansas is the next state to be conquered in our continuing series of articles analyzing the ATV laws in every state, which stemmed from this article. Four wheeling must not be super popular in Arkansas, or the riders there are just very respectful, because they haven’t legislated every little thing about operating an ATV. It should also be noted that, while I am an attorney, I am not your attorney, am not licensed in Arkansas and am not giving legal advice. If you have questions, you should consult a local attorney.
How does Arkansas Define an ATV?
Arkansas defines “All-terrain vehicle” as “every three-wheeled, four-wheeled, or six-wheeled vehicle seventy-five inches (75″) or less in width, having a dry weight of eight hundred pounds (800 lbs.) or less, equipped with low pressure tires designed primarily for off-road recreational use and having an engine displacement of no more than six hundred fifty cubic centimeters (650 cc). The term “all-terrain vehicle” shall not include any golf cart, riding lawnmower, or lawn or garden tractor.”
If you are wondering if your quad qualifies as an ATV check out our guide to ATV dimensions or ATV weight.
Do you have to Register an ATV in Arkansas?
The statutes in Arkansas clearly state that an ATV is not required to be registered as a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or motor-driven cycle for operation on the public streets and highways.
This is great for making it easy to own an ATV in Arkansas, but it also makes it tough to avoid buying a stolen ATV when you are buying used. If you want to know why, or are ever going to think about buying a used ATV, you need to check out this article about making sure you don’t get stuck with a stolen quad.
Can you ride an ATV or UTV on Public Roads in Arkansas?
In general, Arkansas prohibits the operation of ATVs on public streets and highways. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. The use of an ATV on a public street or highway is permitted in Arizona in the following five circumstances:
- For farming or hunting operations;
- Crossing a public street or highway;
- As a means of transportation if a person has a serious walking disability or has lost one or both legs above the ankle;
- If the operator is an emergency or utility personnel engaged in official business; and
- To get from an off-road trail to another off-road trail or from the operator’s private property to an off- road trail or other tract of private property and the distance of travel is three miles or less.
These exceptions don’t automatically apply in all situations. For example, the fifth exception only works if an operator can show that traveling on a public street or highway is the most reasonable route of access. If you are traveling to or from your private property, “his or her private property” is defined as real property that you own, lease, reside at, or is staying at for a specific period of time as an invitee. Surprisingly, Arkansas actually requires you to carry proof of your property interest in your private property. This could be a deed, lease, resort reservation or so forth.
For the exception providing for an operator with a serious walking disability, the person claiming the exemption must carry with them, while operating the ATV, a physician’s certificate certifying that the person has a serious walking handicap.
If you fall within one of the above exceptions, and you are riding with another ATV, Arkansas law specifies that the ATVs shall be operated in single file except while overtaking another vehicle. If you are overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, you are required to pass at a safe distance to the left until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. If the person is turning left, you can overtake and pass them on the right.
Finally, it should be noted any prohibitions against operating an ATV on public roads do not apply under the following two conditions:
- The public street or highway is outside the city limits of any municipality or incorporated town in Arkansas; and
- The public street or highway was not a United States interstate highway.
How Old do you have to be to Operate an ATV in Arkansas?
Arkansas actually has some of the most lenient laws when it comes to youth operating an ATV. There are no actual age limits on who may operate an ATV. A person 12 years or older can operate an ATV without any special restrictions. Children under the age of 12 are still entitled to operate an ATV so long as they are under the direct supervision of a person at least 18 years of age, or if the child is operating an ATV on private land owned by, leased, rented, or under the direct control of his or her parent or legal guardian, or if he or she is on land with the permission of the owner.
What Equipment must Your ATV be Equipped with in Arkansas?
Once again, Arkansas is pretty relaxed on their requirements. They don’t have the long list of requirements many states have. They just stick to the two basics:
- Your ATV must be equipped with an adequate muffler system in good working condition.
- Your ATV must be equipped with a United States Forest Service-qualified spark arrester.
What are the Penalties for Improper Operation of an ATV?
While there isn’t too much you have to worry about with four wheeling in Arkansas, you should be aware there are penalties for violating any of the provisions discussed above. The statutes are pretty broad about the penalties, only providing that a conviction is classified as a misdemeanor, carrying a modest fine to be between $10 and $50 and/or imprisonment of up to thirty days.