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 Louisiana in this article. 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.
How does Louisiana Define an ATV and UTV?
Louisiana defines a quad or ATV or All-Terrain Vehicle as an off-road vehicle (not legal for highway use) with factory specifications not to exceed the following: weight – 750 lbs; length – 85 inches; width – 48 inches. ATV tires are restricted to those no larger than 26 x 12 with a maximum 1-inch lug height and a maximum allowable tire pressure of 12 psi as indicated on the tire by the manufacturer. See this guide for ATV weight and this one for ATV dimensions if you have questions.
Louisiana defines a side by side or UTV or “utility terrain vehicle” as any recreational motor vehicle designed for and capable of travel over designated roads, traveling on four or more tires with a maximum tire width of twenty-seven inches, a maximum wheel cleat or lug of three-fourths of an inch, a minimum width of fifty inches but not exceeding seventy-four inches (guide to UTV dimensions), a minimum weight of at least seven hundred pounds but not exceeding two thousand pounds (guide to UTV weight), and a minimum wheelbase of sixty-one inches but not exceeding one hundred ten inches.
Are you Required to Title and Register an ATV or UTV in Louisiana?
You are required to title and register your ATV or UTV in Louisiana. When you have registered the ATV or UTV, you will receive a decal that must be affixed to your machine within 30 days of purchase.
You will not be able to obtain a title or a certificate of registration on any ATV or UTV, whether purchased in or out of Louisiana, unless you can prove that all sales taxes required by law has been paid. If you buy from a registered dealer, it will be included. Otherwise, you will have to pay the sales tax at the time the vehicle is titled the same as is required for the registration and licensing of other vehicles.
To register your ATV or UTV, you must also present the following items:
- A completed vehicle application form (DPSMV 1799);
- Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (new/unregistered vehicle) or title;
- Itemized invoice from dealer to purchaser or original notarized bill of sale or invoice (new/unregistered) or current certificate of title assigned before a notary by seller to purchaser, with the properly released lien, if applicable;
- Security agreement, if applicable; and
- Applicable fees (title, handling, mortgage recordation fee).
Are you Required to Insure your ATV or UTV in Louisiana?
Louisiana requires that any person operating an ATV or UTV shall provide, upon demand, proof that the ATV or UTV is covered by valid liability insurance.
Where are you Permitted to Operate an ATV or UTV in Louisiana?
With the exception of road and highways located in Orleans Parish, you may ride an ATV or UTV on the shoulders of all public roads or highways, except interstate highways, during daylight hours starting thirty minutes after sunrise and ending thirty minutes before sunset. You may also cross public roads or highways as needed. See the section below about UTVs on public roads.
You may only operate an ATV or UTV within a Louisiana State Park if it has been properly licensed by the appropriate regulatory agencies.
Within Louisiana State Parks, ATVS and UTVs may only be operated on those roads, lanes, or byways designated for vehicular park traffic unless otherwise authorized by the site manager. Likewise, ATVs and UTVs may only be parked in designated parking areas unless otherwise authorized by the site manager.
Unless otherwise posted, you may not exceed 15 miles per hour while riding an ATV or UTV in a State Park.
You are not permitted to clean, service or repair an ATV or UTV on state park property except in emergency situations and in designated areas.
Wildlife Management Areas
Every Wildlife Management Area in Louisiana is required to have at least one all-terrain vehicle trail open throughout the year, except when weather or other conditions render the use of the trail a public safety or an environmental hazard.
To be able to use the year-round all-terrain vehicle trails in Wildlife Management Areas, you must possess a WMA permit.
ATV trails for physically challenged persons
Louisiana has special ATV trails for physically challenged persons. The use of these trails is restricted to those holding ATV physically challenged permits, and to people 60 years of age or older may also, with proof of age. If you are under the age of 60 and wish to use these trails, you must apply for and obtain a Physically Challenged Hunter Program Permit from LDWF.
Louisiana Trail Markings
The following markings are used to mark ATV and UTV trails in Louisiana.
- Entrances to ATV trails will be marked with peach colored paint.
- Entrances to ATV/UTV trails will be marked with orange colored paint.
- Entrances to Physically Challenged Only trails will be marked with blue colored paint.
- Entrances to ATV trails that are open year-round will be marked with purple paint.
- The end of all trails will be marked with red paint.
Can you Operate a UTV on Public Streets in Louisiana?
While the operation of both ATVs and UTVs upon the public roads or streets of Louisiana is generally prohibited, there are specific laws that permit UTV operation on public roads. To operate a UTV on the public streets of Louisiana, you must abide by the following regulations:
- You may only operate a UTV upon a parish road or municipal street that has been designated by a municipality for use by a utility terrain vehicle.
- You may cross any divided highway, roadway, or street with a posted speed limit in excess of thirty-five miles per hour only at an intersection.
- Any UTV operated on a public street must be equipped with the following:
- front and rear turn signal lamps;
- tail lamps;
- stop lamps;
- reflex reflectors on each side of the UTV as far to the rear as practicable;
- a red reflector on the rear of the UTV;
- an exterior mirror mounted on the driver’s side of the UTV or an interior mirror;
- a parking brake;
- an adequate windshield;
- a windshield wiper;
- a speedometer;
- an odometer;
- A braking system that brakes each wheel;
- a seat belt assembly installed at each designated seating position; and
- a vehicle identification or serial number.
- Despite the use of a UTV on public streets, it should still be registered as an off-road vehicle and shall display a decal issued by the office of motor vehicles.
- You must be at least twenty-one years of age to ride a UTV on a public street.
- You must possess a valid driver’s license to operate a UTV on a public street.
- You must have liability insurance with the same minimum limits as required by the provisions of R.S. 32:900(B) to operate a UTV on a public street.
- Passengers may not ride in a UTV’s open bed unless there is an emergency situation.
- You may not have more passengers than the number of available seat belts.
The Use of ATVs and UTVs in Farming
You may operate an ATV or UTV on the shoulders of all public roads and highways except interstate highways for the purposes of farm-related activities within a five-mile radius of your farm, provided that you possesses a valid Class “E” driver’s license. To take advantage of this provision, you must carry a copy of a motor vehicle registration to prove you own at least one motor vehicle which is registered as a vehicle engaged in the business of actual farming under the provisions of R.S. 47:462. Alternatively, you may carry a sworn affidavit attesting that you are engaged in the business of actual farming under the provisions of R.S. 47:462.
Similarly, any agricultural consultant as defined in R.S. 3:3202 may also operate an ATV or UTV for the purposes of farm-related activities within a five-mile radius of a farmer’s farm.
Note that any ATV or UTV used exclusively on commercial farms in the production and harvesting of food and fiber for sale is exempt from state sales/use tax. You will still be required to pay any parish/municipality sales/use tax that may be applicable.
The following regulations related to hunting with ATVs and UTVs exist in Louisiana.
While you are not permitted to use a UTV to aid in the retieval of downed game, you are allowed to retrieve your own downed deer and hogs with the aid of an ATV under the following conditions:
- You are not located in any of the following locations:
- Atchafalaya Delta,
- Lake Boeuf,
- Thistlethwaite WMAs, or
- the Crusel Tract of Maurepas Swamp WMA.
- During the retrieval, you are not in the possession of, and none is stored on your ATV, any firearm or archery equipment.
- You are not accompanied by more than one helper.
- You only use one ATV in the retrieval.
- You are not using an ATV to locate or search for wounded game or for any other purpose than retrieval of deer and hogs once they have been legally harvested and located.