Guide to the ATV and UTV Laws of Nebraska

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 Nebraska 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 Nebraska define ATV and UTV

Nebraska defines an ATV as “any motorized off-highway vehicle which is 50 inches or less in width; has a dry weight of 1200 pounds or less; travels on 3 or more non-highway tires; and is designed for operator use only with no passengers, or is specifically designed by the original manufacturer for the operator and one passenger.”

If you want to see what quads fit in the definition, look at this guide for ATV size and this one for ATV weight.

Nebraska defines UTV as “any motorized off-highway vehicle which (A) is seventy-four inches in width or less, (B) is not more than one hundred eighty inches, including the bumper, in length, (C) has a dry weight of two thousand pounds or less, and(D) travels on four or more nonhighway tires.”  It specifically does not include ATVs, golf car vehicles, or low-speed vehicles.

If you want to see what side-by-sides fit in the definition of UTV, check out this guide on UTV dimensions and this one on UTV weight.

Are you required to title your ATV or UTV in Nebraska?

If you purchased a new ATV or UTV after January 1, 2004, you are required to obtain a certificate of title for it. If you purchased your ATV or UTV prior to January 1, 2004, you may choose to be issued a certificate of title with the presentation of the appropriate documentation to their County Treasurer.

The required documentation that must be presented to the County Treasurer includes all of the following:

  • an Application for Certificate of Title;
  • $10.00 titling fee;
  • Vehicle Inspection if the vehicle is coming into Nebraska from Out-of-State, the title document surrendered is a Salvage Certificate of Title, or an Affidavit for Verification of Ownership of an ATV, Minibike, UTV or Minitruck is presented

and one of the following:

  • Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO);
  • a properly assigned Certificate of Title;
  • Affidavit for Verification of Ownership of an ATV, Minibike, UTV or Minitruck;
  • the last registration and a Bill of Sale for used ATVs if previous location was not a title issuing state;
  • for ATVs registered by the U.S. Military, a U.S. Military Registration Document;
  • for ATVs sold by the U.S. Government, a U.S. Department of State Certificate of Title;
  • for ATVs registered in a foreign country, a current Registration Certificate and/or a Bill of Sale, foreign country ownership documents and import papers
  • Court Order

You are required to make application for a Certificate of Title on your ATV or UTV in the county where you reside. The application must be obtained within thirty (30) days of the date of purchase of the ATV or UTV.

Sales tax on the ATV or UTV must be paid to the County Treasurer at the time of title issuance.

Certificates of Title issued for ATVs in Nebraska are intended as proof of ownership only and will contain the statement, “Not To Be Registered For Road Use.”

Can you street legal your ATV or UTV in Nebraska?

Nebraska considered ATVs and UTVs as off-road vehicles. They are not generally registered for use on any public roads.

More specifically, an ATV or UTV may not be operated on any controlled-access highway with more than two marked traffic lanes.

The crossing of a two-lane or larger highway may only be done on an ATV as follows:

  • You must cross at an angle of approximately ninety degrees to the direction of the highway and at a place where no obstruction prevents a quick and safe crossing;
  • You must come to a complete stop before crossing the shoulder or roadway of the highway;
  • You must yield the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic that constitutes an immediate potential hazard;
  • If you are crossing a divided highway, you can only cross at an intersection of the highway with another highway; and
  • Your headlight and taillight must be on when the crossing is made.

If you are crossing in a UTV, the following conditions must be met:

  • The crossing is made at an intersection that is controlled by a traffic control signal or, if outside city limits, by stop signs.
  • The crossing is made in compliance with the traffic control signal or stop signs; and
  • The crossing at such intersection is specifically authorized.

ATVs and UTVs may be operated on streets that don’t include controlled-access highways with more than two marked traffic lanes in the following locations:

  • Outside the corporate limits of a city, village, or unincorporated village if incidental to the vehicle’s use for agricultural purposes;
  • Within the corporate limits of a city or village if authorized by the city or village by ordinance adopted in accordance with this section; or
  • Within an unincorporated village if authorized by the county board of the county in which the unincorporated village is located by resolution in accordance with this section.

To determine if cities or villages have authorized the use of ATVs and UTVs on public streets, you will have to check with the location, but quite a few in Nebraska have legalized street use in recent years, with more expected in the future.

Where ATV or UTV use is permitted on public streets as identified above, the following conditions must be adhered to:

  • ATVs and UTVs may only be operated between the hours of sunrise and sunset.
  • You must have a valid Class O operator’s license or a farm permit.
  • You must have liability insurance coverage for the ATV or UTV.
  • You cannot operate the ATV or UTV at a speed in excess of thirty miles per hour.
  • You must have an illuminated headlight and taillight of the ATV and UTV.
  • Your ATV and UTV must be equipped with a bicycle safety flag which extends not less than five feet above ground and which is attached to the rear of such vehicle. The bicycle safety flag shall be triangular in shape with an area of not less than thirty square inches and shall be day-glow in color.

If you are uncertain where an ATV can be operated in your area, contact your local city Police Department or County Sheriff’s Office.

ATVs which have been modified or retrofitted with after-market parts to include additional equipment other than headlights, taillights, brake systems, muffler systems, or a spark arrester shall not be registered, nor shall such modified or retrofitted vehicles be eligible for registration in any other category of vehicle.

Where to Ride ATVs and UTVs in Nebraska

ATV and UTV use is generally permitted only on public land where designated. ATV and UTV use has been designated in the following areas.

Bessey Ranger District

Trails in this location are open year round, with a few seasonal closures in certain areas. The Bessey Ranger District has approximately 90,000 acres and has about 300 miles of roads and trails. There is an annual pass fee of $15 or daily use fee of $3. You are required to only use ATVs and UTVs on the trails or roads.

Pine Ridge Ranger District

Trails in this location are open year round, with a few seasonal closures in certain areas. There is no cost to ride on the roads and trails in Pine Ridge, but you are required to only use ATVs and UTVs on the trails or roads.

McKelvie National Forest

Trails in this location are open year round, with a few seasonal closures in certain areas. There is no cost to ride on the roads and trails in Pine Ridge, but you are required to only use ATVs and UTVs on the trails or roads.

Flat Rock Riders OHV Park

This small park maintained by the Flat Rock Riders Association is located near Sutherland. It only allows use by ATVs and dirt bikes. It is open year round and features dirt trails and moto-cross track.

Harlan County Reservoir OHV Area

This area is located at the Harlan County Reservoir in Alma. It offers 470 acres of dirt trails open to ATVs, UTVS and dirt bikes. It is open year-round and there is no cost.

ATV and UTV Requirements in Nebraska

Every ATV and UTV in Nevada must be equipped with the following:

  • A headlight and taillight, which must be illuminated during the period of time from sunset to sunrise and at any time when visibility is reduced due to insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions.
  • A brake system maintained in good operating condition.
  • An adequate muffler system in good working condition.
  • A United States Forest Service qualified spark arrester.

It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV in Nebraska with any of the following modifications:

  • a cutout, bypass, or similar device on the exhaust system;
  • an otherwise modified exhaust system; or
  • spark arresters that have been modified or removed.

What to do if you are in an ATV or UTV Accident in Nebraska

If you are in an ATV or UTV accident in Nebraska that results in the death of any person or in the injury of any person which requires the treatment of the person by a physician, must give notice of the accident to the
Department of Transportation within ten days.

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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