Guide to ATV and UTV Laws in Arizona

arizona atv laws

Arizona 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.  Arizona is one of the most popular states for street-legal ATVs and UTVs given their relaxed laws so there is a lot to look at here.

It should also be noted that, while I am an attorney, I am not your attorney and am not giving legal advice.  If you have questions, you should consult a local attorney.

What is considered an Off-Highway Vehicle in Arizona?

Arizona defines an off-highway vehicle as a motorized vehicle that is operated primarily on land, water, snow, ice or other natural terrain.  It includes two, three and four-wheel vehicles, and specifically identifies ATVs, UTVs, side by sides, RZRs, ROVs, motorcycles, mopeds and snowmobiles.

Are you Required to have a Title for your ATV/UTV in Arizona?

An ATV or UTV is required to have a certificate of title in order to comply with the mandatory OHV Decal law.  Titles have been required on most OHVs in Arizona since 1985, but in 2009, the law was expanded to require a certificate of title for all OHVs.

Is a driver’s license required to operate an ATV or UTV in Arizona?

A driver’s license is required to operate an ATV or UTV in Arizona on city, county, and state roads and highways, some Forest Service road and BLM-maintained roadways.

What is an OHV Decal and do you need one in Arizona?

An OHV Decal is required in Arizona for any vehicle designed by its manufacturer to primarily be used for travel over unimproved roads, having an unladen weight of 1,800 pounds or less (how much does an ATV weigh?) and an engine greater than 49cc.

You should make sure to get your OHV Decal before you register your ATV or UTV.  If you are primarily using it offroad, you will get a discount on the registration if you have an OHV Decal.

What Steps do you Follow to Comply with Arizona’s OHV Decal law?

Complying with Arizona’s decal law is pretty simple, just follow these steps:

  1. Determine if your ATV or UTV qualifies for the OHV Decal.
  2. Obtain a Certificate of Title for the ATV or UTV.
  3. Obtain a license plate for your ATV or UTV.
  4. Purchase your OHV Decal.
  5. Affix the OHV Decal to the upper left-hand corner of your license plate.
  6. If you wish to ride on Arizona roads, purchase the street legal registration.

What are the exceptions to needing an OHV Decal in Arizona?

There are certain exceptions where you do not need an OHV Decal to operate your ATV in Arizona.  They include the following:

  • When you are participating in an off-highway special event.
  • When you are operating your ATV/UTV on private land.
  • When you are loading or unloading your ATV from a vehicle.
  • When you are operating your ATV/UTV during a period of emergency, or as directed by a peace officer or public safety officer.

Do you need an OHV Decal if you are a non-resident operating an ATV in Arizona?

In Arizona, a non-resident is not required to have an OHV Decal as long as the non-resident meets all the following conditions.

  • The person operating the ATV or side by side is not a resident of Arizona.
  • The person owns the ATV they are operating.
  • The ATV displays a current OHV Decal or registration from the person’s home state.
  • The ATV or UTV is not present in Arizona for more than thirty consecutive days.

What is the money used for when you buy your OHV Decal?

Thirty percent of the funds go to the Highway User Revenue Fund, which is distributed to the counties and cities throughout Arizona  for use on road and highway maintenance.

The remaining seventy percent is dedicated to to the state’s OHV program, including the following:

  • to the Arizona State Parks for grants and agreements, trail construction, development and maintenance, signage and maps.
  • to the Arizona Game and Fish Departments for enforcement, education and outreach.
  • to the Arizona State Land Department for mitigation, signage and enforcement.

utv laws in arizona

What ATV Equipment is Required in Arizona?

  • Spark Arrestor.  Your ATV must have a spark arrestor approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
  • Goggles.  For any ATV or UTV not equipped with a windshield, Arizona law requires the operator to wear eye protection.  If you need a awesome set from Oakley at a killer price, check out our Recommended Gear.
  • Muffler.  Your ATV must be equipped with a muffler that prevents sounds above 96 decibels.
  • Lights.  If you are operating an ATV after dusk or before dawn, you will need both headlights and tail lights.
  • Brake Light.  Your ATV must have at least one red brake light.
  • License Plate.  A license plate must be securely fastened to the rear of your ATV, and must remain clearly visible at all times.
  • Rearview Mirror.
  • Seat.  The operator and each passenger must have their own seat.
  • Footrests.  The operator and each passenger must have their own footrests.
  • Safety Flag. If you are operating an ATV on sand dunes or other areas designated by the land management agency, you are required to have a safety flag attached to your ATV that is at least six inches by 12 inches.  The flag must fly at least eight feet above the ground.
  • Helmet.  A helmet is not actually required for an ATV operator over the age of 18, but they are strongly encouraged.  Based on what we have heard and experienced, you are much less likely to be pulled over for some actual violation if you are wearing a helmet.  So if you don’t want to be a target for the policy, and you want to protect that thing that holds your brain and keeps you alive, you should probably wear a helmet.

Can you get a Street-Legal ATV in Arizona?

You can make your ATV or UTV street-legal in Arizona by registering them for on-highway use.  To be street legal, your ATV must be equipped with specific equipment and carry proof of liability insurance.

You must also display the registration sticker on the upper right corner of your license plate.

It is easy to tell a street-legal ATV from a non-street legal ATV in Arizona.  A street-legal ATV will have the letters MC on the left side of its license plate, while a non-street legal ATV will have the letters RV on the left side of its license plate.

What Additional Equipment do you need to add to your ATV to make it Street Legal in Arizona?

While most of the equipment that is normally required to make an ATV street legal is required for all ATVs, as discussed above, there are few additional requirements if you want to be street legal in Arizona.

  • License Plate Light.  In addition to having your license plate displayed in a clearly visible manner on the rear of your ATV, you must have it lighted as well.
  • Horn.  The horn must be audible from a distance of at least 200 feet.  I am not sure how strict they are on this, or how they test it, but most add-on ATV horns should do the trick.
  • Liability Insurance.  While not technically equipment I guess, you do need to make sure you have liability insurance on your ATV or side by side that matches the minimum requirements for a car.  This makes sense as you will be driving it like a car in theory.
  • Emissions.  Another non-equipment requirement I am listing with the equipment.  Certain areas in Arizona also require you to have your emissions tested.  Just check with the DMV where you are getting your ATV or UTV registered.

utv atv laws in arizona

What Rules are there for Youth Riders in Arizona?

  • All riders under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet.  The helmet must be DOT approved and properly fitted and fastened.  Check out our Recommended Gear if you need advice on a good helmet.
  • Children under 16 must be supervised by an adult.
  • Children must ride an appropriately-sized ATV.

What Regulations are there on the Operation of ATVs and UTVs in Arizona?

In an effort to maintain safe operation of ATVs, and to protect the natural resources of the state, Arizona has adopted a number of operating regulations.

These regulations apply to all off-highway vehicles operated in Arizona, including all ATVs and UTVs.

  • You may not operate an OHV with reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property.
  • You may not operate an OHV off an existing road, trail or route in a manner that causes damage to wildlife habitat, riparian areas, cultural or natural resources or property or improvements.
  • You may not operate an OHV on closed roads, trails, routes or areas unless you are a hunter retrieving an animal in a designated area in accordance with land management agency rules.
  • You may not operate an OHV over unimproved roads, trails, routes or areas unless driving on roads, trails, routes or areas is allowed by rule or regulation.
  • You may not operate an OHV in a manner that causes damage to the environment.
  • You may not ride double on an ATV in Arizona unless the ATV is designed to carry more than one passenger.  In that situation, you may only carry the number of passengers on your ATV or UTV as recommended by the manufacturer.  It is important to note Arizona only recognizes the number recommended by the manufacturer, which means the addition of after-market seats or foot pegs does not lawfully increase the seating capacity on your ATV.
  • You may not operate an OHV while impaired.  In this regard, an ATV or UTV is treated the same as any other vehicle, and you can be stopped by the police, arrested and charged with a DUI if you are operating an OHV on any street or public lands under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • You may not chase or harass wildlife while on an ATV or UTV in Arizona.

Generally, your use of an ATV or UTV is limited to roads, trails, routes or areas designated by the applicable land management agency.  Unless you are sure, you should check with the appropriate agency before you ride anywhere that is not marked open for OHV use.

atv laws in arizona

Hunting and ATV/UTV use in Arizona

The use of ATVs and UTVs is becoming more popular for hunters in Arizona.  Because of that, the following regulations have been implementing.

  • You may not discharge a firearm from, across or into a roadway.  Because of that, you need to be very aware of where you are shooting from if you are using an ATV while hunting.  The exception to this is someone with a Challenged Hunter Access Mobility Permit (CHAMP), which can be obtained from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
  • You may not trespass over private property.  As such, make sure to obtain owner approval if you are going to be riding your ATV through private property.
  • You may not operate your ATV or UTV off the road or trail unless you are retrieving big game animals in specific areas.  If you have questions, you should consult the applicable land management agency for the area you will be hunting to make sure you know the current rules and regulations for that area.

Can you operate an ATV on State Trust Land in Arizona?

If your ATV or UTV has a valid OHV Decal, you may cross State Trust Land on designated or open roads and trails.  You may not enter any closed areas.  If you plan to do anything other than cross over the land, like camping or a picnic, you must purchase a recreation permit.

Brent Huntley

Brent Huntley is the owner of ATV Man and is responsible for almost all the material on the website. He also runs and loves to travel and ride ATVs with his family. When he isn't playing, his day job consists of owning Huntley Law.

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