Guide to the ATV and UTV Laws in Maine

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 Maine 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 Maine Define an ATV?

Maine defines an ATV or “All-terrain vehicle” as a motor- driven, off-road, recreational vehicle capable of cross-country travel on land, snow, ice, marsh, swampland or other natural terrain. “All-terrain vehicle” or “ATV” includes, but is not limited to, a multitrack, multiwheel or low-pressure tire vehicle; a motorcycle or related 2-wheel, 3-wheel or belt-driven vehicle; an amphibious machine; or other means of transportation deriving motive power from a source other than muscle or wind.

Are you Required to Register your ATV or UTV in Maine?

You are required to register your ATV or UTV in Maine. THe registration is good for one year and expires on June 30. The registration fee for a Maine resident is $33 and $68 for a nonresident. A nonresident may also purchase a 7-day registration for $53. Note that Maine no longer offers reciprocity registration.

To qualify as a resident of Maine, you must have lived there for at least one year, and meet all the following requirements:

  • If you are registered to vote, is must be in Maine;
  • If you are licensed to drive a motor vehicle, your license must be from Maine;
  • If you own a motor vehicle located within Maine, you must have registered each such vehicle in Maine; and
  • You must be in compliance with the state income tax laws of Maine.

Any military personnel stationed in Maine, and their families, may register their ATV or UTV in Maine.

Prior to registering your ATV or UTV in Maine for the first time, you must pay all applicable taxes on the vehicle, unless you are obtaining a nonresident registration.

You are not required to register your UTV or ATV in Maine in the following circumstances:

  • You only operate the ATV or UTV on land owned or domiciled by the operator.
  • ATVs operated by a commercial ski area for the purpose of packing snow or for rescue operations, unless the ATV is required to cross a public street during that operation.
  • ATVS and UTVs owned and operated by the state or federal government.
  • ATVs or UTVs owned by nonresidents operated at a special event organized to occur in Maine if the special event organizer submits a request in writing to the commissioner 60 days prior to the special event and provides the commissioner with a map of the trails to be used during the special event and the commissioner approves the request.
  • During the annual free riding weekend.

When you transfer ownership of an ATV or UTV in Maine, you must, within 10 days, properly sign the registration, indicate the disposition of the vehicle and return the registration to the commissioner. During the same time period, you may also apply to transfer the registration to a new ATV or UTV. The new owner is required to apply for a new registration.

Where are you Permitted to Operate an ATV or UTV in Maine?

Before operating an ATV or UTV on private land in Maine, you must have the express permission of the landowner. While operating on private land, you are required to stop and identify themselves at the request of the landowner.

You are not permitted to operate an ATV or UTV on a designated snowmobile trail unless an emergency exists. This does not apply to an ATV with tracks that has been registered as a snowmobile.

Likewise, you may not operate an ATV on railroad tracks, unless they have been abandoned.

Are you Permitted to Operate an ATV or UTV on Public Streets in Maine?

You may not operate an ATV or UTV upon a controlled access highway or within the right-of-way limits of a controlled access highway in Maine, except within the following exceptions:

  • You may cross controlled access highways by use of bridges over or roads under those highways or by use of roads crossing controlled access highways at grade;
  • You may cross a controlled access highway where the Commissioner of Transportation has issued a special permit to do so;
  • You may operate a registered ATV or UTV within the right-of-way limits of a controlled access highway on a trail segment approved by the Commissioner of Transportation or the board of directors of the Maine Turnpike Authority, as applicable.

Likewise, ATV or UTV operation is generally prohibited on any public street in Maine. Notwithstanding, you may ride an ATV or UTV a necessary distance, but in no case to exceed 500 yards, on the extreme right of the street for the purpose of crossing, as directly as possible, a public way, bridge, overpass, underpass, sidewalk or culvert as long as that operation can be made safely and does not interfere with traffic approaching from either direction.

An ATV or UTV may also be operated on a public way or street in the following circumstances.

  • You may operate an ATV or UTV on a public way that is not maintained or used for the operation of conventional motor vehicles, except that operation on the left side of the street is prohibited during the hours from sunset to sunrise.
  • You may operate an ATV or UTV on the streets and public ways during a declared period of emergency when travel by conventional motor vehicles is not practicable.
  • An ATV or UTV may be operated on streets and public ways in special events of limited duration conducted according to a prearranged schedule under a permit from the governmental unit having jurisdiction.
  • An ATV or UTV may be operated on a public way on the extreme right of the traveled way by a law enforcement officer for the sole purpose of traveling between the place where the ATV is usually stored and an area to be patrolled by the law enforcement officer.
  • An ATV may be operated on the extreme right of a public way, or as directed by the appropriate governmental unit within the public way, of a municipality or an unorganized or unincorporated township if the appropriate governmental unit has designated the public way as an ATV-access route designated by highly visible signs at regular intervals.

Where operation of an ATV or UTV is permitted on a public street or right of way, the operator of such a vehicle must always bring the ATV or UTV to a complete stop before entering a public way. They must also yield the right-of-way to all other types of vehicular traffic while operating an ATV or UTV on a public way.

What are the Age Restrictions for Operating an ATV or UTV in Maine?

Maine has the following restrictions regarding the age of ATV or UTV operators riding on any land that is not owned or leased by their parents or guardians.

  • A person under 10 years of age may not operate an ATV or UTV in Maine.
  • A person aged 10 years to 15 years of age may not operate an ATV or UTV unless that person has successfully completed an approved training course.
  • Any person under 16 must be accompanied by an adult when operating an ATV or UTV.
  • It is unlawful for any person to permit an unaccompanied youth under 16 to operate an ATV or UTV.
  • Any operator or passenger of an ATV or UTV is required to wear a protective helmet. We recommend this helmet as we found it to be the best combination of quality and value.

Required Equipment

The following equipment is required on all ATVs and UTVs in Maine:

  • For any ATV or UTV operated between sunset and sunrise, there must be mounted on the front at least one headlight capable of casting a white beam for a distance of at least 100 feet directly ahead of the vehicle.
  • For any ATV or UTV operated between sunset and sunrise, there must be mounted on the rear at least one taillight capable of displaying a light that must be visible at a distance of at least 100 feet behind the ATV.
  • Your ATV or UTV must be equipped with an operable muffler that has not been modified, and reduces emitted noise to 96 db or lower.
  • Your ATV or UTV must have a working spark arrester.

While you are required to have the above equipment, you are not permitted to have a snorkel on your ATV unless you are operating on private land.

Other Regulations:

  • It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV in such a way as to recklessly create a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to another person.
  • It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV so as to endanger any person or property.
  • It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV except at a reasonable and prudent speed for the existing conditions.
  • It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV within 200 feet of a dwelling, hospital, nursing home, convalescent home, or church, unless you are legally operating on a public street, on private land, or on a frozen body of water.
  • It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV wherein you tear down or destroy another’s fence, leave open a gate or bars on another’s land, trample or destroy crops of another, or remove or destroy signs or posted notices.
  • It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV on a salt marsh, intertidal zone, marine sand beach, sand dune or any cemetery, burial place or burying ground.
  • It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV on alpine tundra, on a freshwater marsh or bog, river brook stream, pond, nonforested wetland or vernal pool, unless the ground is frozen or sufficiently covered with snow to prevent direct damage to the vegetation.
  • A parent or guardian is responsible for any violations of Maine ATV or UTV laws by a minor under their care.

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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