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 Massachusetts in this article. Massachusetts is notorious for having the strictest ATV and UTV laws in the United States. They also have the harshest penalties for non-compliance. 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.
Are you Required to Register your ATV or UTV in Massachusetts?
To ride an ATV or UTV on private or public land in Massachusetts, you must first register the vehicle. The only exemptions to registration requirements are for those ATVs and UTVs used exclusively for agricultural, forestry, lumbering or construction purposes.
The registration must be in an operator’s possession and the assigned registration numbers must be displayed on the ATV or UTV. The numbers must be painted or applied as a sticker to both sides of the forward half of the ATV or UTV. The number must be clearly visible, at least 3 inches high, one-half inch wide and legible at all times. The number’s color must contrast sharply against the background color.
Out-of-state registrations are not recognized in Massachusetts. A non-resident may register their ATV or UTV in Massachusetts for a period of 1 year. A resident registration is good for 2 years.
When you are registering an ATV or UTV for the first time, you must register in person or by mail. You must provide the following:
- Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin, if the ATV or UTV was purchased new.
- Bill of Sale.
- Proof of payment of sales tax.
- Vehicle identification number (VIN).
- Required fee.
- Completed and signed application form.
When renewing the registration, it can be completed online here. If you have additional questions about registration, you can contact the Massachusetts Environmental Police at (617) 626-1610.
What Equipment is Required for ATV/UTVs in Massachusetts?
All riders and passengers on an ATV or UTV in Massachusetts are required to wear a securely fastened DOT-approved helmet. This is a bit stricter than most states that only require helmets for youth riders, so if you need a new helmet, check out our favorite one. Additionally, each ATV and UTV must be equipped with one or more headlights, a red rear light and a red rear reflector.
Additional safety equipment is not mandatory, but the Massachusetts Environmental Police Boat and Recreational Vehicle Safety Bureau strongly encourages all ATV/UTV operators to wear eye protection, gloves and over-the-ankle boots. We agree with this recommendation and have provided some great recommendations for our favorite deals on gear.
All ATVs and UTVs in Massachusetts must also be equipped with an adequate braking system, a spark arrestor and a muffler designed to keep noise below 96dbA (101 dbA if vehicle manufactured before 1998).
What Rules are there for Youth ATV/UTV Riders in Massachusetts
Youth under the age of 14 are not permitted to operate an ATV or UTV in Massachusetts. The only exception is for those aged 10-14 who are under the direct supervision of an adult during participation in or preparation for a sanctioned race, rally or event. Additionally, there are some stringent requirements for those aged 14-17 who can operate an ATV or UTV.
For anyone operating an ATV or UTV in Massachusetts that is under the age of 18, they are required to complete an approved OHV safety course and carry the Massachusetts OHV Safety Certificate when riding on public lands. If the rider is under 16, the safety course includes one mandatory session to be attended by the rider’s parent or guardian.
Even with the required OHV education and training requirements, all riders who are under 16 and a half are not permitted to operate and ATV or UTV across a public way unless directly supervised by an adult.
For riders aged 14 to 16, they must be directly supervised by an adult at all times, and they are not permitted to operate an ATV vehicle with an engine capacity greater than 90 cc (cubic centimeters).
Where can you Ride ATVs and UTVs in Massachusetts?
ATV and UTV use in Massachusetts is severely limited. You may operate an ATV or UTV only on designated trails in select public land, most of which are open only between May and November. The selected trails are marked by trailhead signage and orange or yellow trail blazes. These dates may further be affected by wet conditions that delay the opening. To check if trails are open, you can call the Department of Conservation and Recreation at (617) 626-1250.
ATVs and UTVs may only be operated on designated trails during daylight hours. ATVs and UTVs that weigh over 1,000 pounds are not permitted on any trails at any time. To understand ATV and UTV weight, read up on this ATV guide or this UTV guide.
Trails for ATV and/or UTV use can be found on the following public lands:
- Beartown State Forest;
- October Mountain State Forest:
- Pittsfield State Forest;
- Tolland State Forest;
- Freetown-Fall River State Forest;
- F. Gilbert Hills State Forest;
- Wrentham State Forest; and
- Franklin State Forest.
What to do if you are in an ATV/UTV Accident in Massachusetts?
If you are involved in a collision or other accident while operating an ATV or UTV in Massachusetts, and it results in death or injury to any person or to damage to property in excess of $50, you must notify a law enforcement officer immediately. You must also file a written report of the incident with the Massachusetts Environmental Police within 48 hours. The report can be obtained here.
Other Massachusetts Restrictions on ATV/UTV use:
- You may not operate an ATV or UTV under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- You may not operate an ATV or UTV across a public way unless it is marked and approved for recreational vehicles.
- You must come to a complete stop when crossing an approved public way, and you must yield to oncoming traffic.
- You may not exceed speeds that are safe for the riding conditions.
- You may not operate an ATV or UTV in a manner that causes damage to public or private property.
- You may not operate an ATV or UTV on the land of another without written permission of the owner.
- You may not operate an ATV or UTV within 150 feet of an occupied residence without permission of the owner.
- You may not harass or chase wildlife or domestic animals.
- You may not operate an ATV or UTV with a loaded firearm, rifle or shotgun.