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 New York 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 New York define an ATV?
New York defines an all-terrain vehicle or ATV as any self-propelled vehicle with two or more wheels that is manufactured for sale to be used primarily off-highway or in off-road competitions, and that is no wider than 70 inches and weighs no more than 1,000 pounds. To determine if your ATV fits the size and weight descriptions, consult this guide to ATV dimensions and this guide to ATV weight.
Are you required to register your ATV or UTV in New York?
You must register your ATV or UTV with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if you plan to ride anywhere in New York State, including even on your own property.
Your registration is good for a calendar year, expiring each year on August 31. That is, unless you originally registered your ATV or UTV in New York before April 1, 2005, in which case your registration will continue to expire each year on April 30.
If you buy from an ATV dealer, they will register your ATV or UTV before you take the machine. You will have to complete and sign a “Declaration of Exemption From Snowmobile or All-Terrain Vehicle Registration” (RV-6).
If you buy your ATV or UTV from someone who is not a New York State registered ATV dealer, you will need to register it with the DMV. To do so, you must complete the “Vehicle Registration/Title Application” (MV-82). To register your ATV or UTV, you must also provide the following:
- proof of ownership,
- proof of sales tax payment or exemption,
- proof of your identity, and
- proof of your date of birth.
Proof of Ownership
You can provide proof of ownership by any of the following methods:
- For a new ATV or UTV, the manufacturer’s certificate or statement of origin (MCO or MSO);
- For a new ATV or UTV, an out-of-state title certificate or registration certificate;
- For a used ATV or UTV, a completed “Certification of Sale or Transfer” (MV-51) plus the MCO or MSO; or
- For a used ATV or UTV, a New York State transferable registration signed over to you by the previous owner.
Note that if your ATV or UTV has never been registered and you do not have one of the above documents, you must complete and submit a “Statement of Ownership” (MV-51B).
Proof of Sales Tax Payment
If you buy your ATV or UTV from a registered New York State dealer, you should receive a bill of sale. The bill of sale should contain the dealer’s name, address and registration number in addition to your name and address, the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the ATV or UTV’s year, make, model, and number of wheels. The bill of sale will also indicate that the machine is either new or used, and confirmation that the dealer has collected the appropriate sales tax.
If you buy your ATV or UTV from anyone who is not a registered dealer, you will have to pay the sales tax when you register it at a motor vehicle office. You will have to provide the DMV with proof of what you paid for your UTV or ATV.
To ensure you provide acceptable proof of payment amount, have the seller sign and give you a Statement of Transaction- Sale or Gift of Motor Vehicle, Trailer, All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), Vessel (Boat), or Snowmobile (pdf) (DTF-802). You will submit this form to the motor vehicle office and pay the appropriate sales tax before you will be able to register your UTV or ATV in New York.
Proof of Identity and Date of Birth
To register an ATV or UTV, you are required to provide proof of who you are. You must provide proof of identity, date of birth, and at least six points of proof of name. For the most recent listing of acceptable documents see “Proofs of Identity For Registration and Title” (ID-82).
To make it easiest, you can present one of the following documents that automatically qualify as six points of proof:
- New York Photo Driver license or Learner Permit; or
- New York Non-Driver Photo Identification Card.
The ATV registration and registration renewal fee is $12.50 per year regardless of when you obtain it. You also must pay a $12.50 license plate fee the first time you register your ATV or UTV and obtain a license plate for it.
Upon registration, you will be issued a license plate, a registration sticker and a registration document. You must attach the license plate to the rear of the ATV or UTV, and the sticker must be placed on the right side of the license plate. You must also carry the registration document with you whenever operating your ATV or UTV.
Are you required to insure your ATV or UTV in New York?
You are required to have liability insurance on your ATV or UTV if you are going to operate it on any property in New York , except on your own property.
The minimum required coverage for ATV/UTV insurance is $50,000/$100,000 for death, $25,000/$50,000 for injury, and $10,000 for property damage per occurrence, which means any one accident.
You must present proof of the minimum-required insurance upon the request of a judge, police officer or a person claiming to have suffered injury or property damage as a result of your operation of your UTV or ATV.
Are you required to have a driver’s license to ride and ATV or UTV in New York?
You are not required to possess a driver’s license or driving permit to operate an ATV or UTV in New York. However, there are rules regarding youth operators that are discussed below.
Youth Restrictions for ATV/UTV use in New York
General operation, without additional restrictions, is limited to those aged 16 or older.
If you are aged 10 through age 15, you may operate an ATV or UTV in New York only under the following restrictions:
- You are under adult supervision; or,
- You are operating on lands owned or leased by your parent or guardian; or,
- You are operating on any lands where ATV use is permitted and you have completed an ATV safety training course approved by the DMV. In this case, you need to carry your course completion certificate with you while riding.
If you are under the age of 10, you may operate an ATV or UTV only under the following restrictions:
- You are under adult supervision; or,
- You are on lands owned or leased by your parent or guardian.
Adult Supervision in New York means that you are accompanied by a person at least 18 years of age, or a person 16 or 17 years of age who holds an ATV safety course completion certificate from an approved safety course provider.
When riding in New York, you or your ATV/UTV must be equipped with the following:
- Anyone on an ATV or UTV, including passengers, must wear a USDOT-approved helmet. If you need a new helmet and want the best combination of value and quality, look at our recommended gear.
- Brakes on the ATV or UTV must be in good working condition.
- An ATV or UTV must have a muffler in good operating condition that meets federal standards.
- An ATV or UTV must be equipped with a spark arrester approved by the U.S. Forest Service
- An ATV or UTV must have tires with at least 2/32nds of an inch tread and no visible breaks, cuts, exposed cords, bumps or bulges.
- Every ATV and UTV must have a white headlight and red taillight that is to be illuminated when the machine is operated from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise.
Where are you permitted to ride an ATV or UTV in New York?
As you might expect, driving opportunities in New York are fairly limited.
ATV or UTV use is not permitted on a New York highway unless said highway has been designated and posted for ATV use by the state or local authority. For the most part, designated highways are limited to only the part of the highway between two off-highway ATV trails.
If you are unsure whether ATV or UTV use is prohibited on any given street, you can check with the local police to be sure. While not techically required, New York highly recommends that, when on a designated street, you illuminate your headlight and taillight, wear bright, reflective clothing, enter the highway with care, and yield to other traffic.
You are permitted to cross a public highway on an ATV or UTV so long as you comply with the following requirements.
- You cross the highway at an angle of approximately 90 degrees, at a place where there are no obstructions;
- You come to a complete stop and yield the right-of-way to traffic on the highway before crossing;
- If it is a divided highway, you cross only where it intersects with another street or highway;
- The highway you intend to cross is not an interstate highway or any controlled-access highway, such as the Thruway or a parkway at any time.
Note that where you are lawfully riding on a public street, it is unlawful for your ATV or UTV to be equipped with studded tires other than automobile-type studs.
You may only ride your UTV or ATV on public land if it has been specifically designated for ATV use, as shown by a posted sign. Any public land may be designated for ATV use only by a government agency. Any public lands designated for ATV and UTV use will be marked.
You may only operate an ATV or UTV on private land in New York if you have prior permission of the land owner or lessee.
What to do if you are in an ATV or UTV accident in New York
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident while riding a UTV or ATV in New York, the law requires you to provide (to any injured person, the owner of damaged property or the police) your name and address, the name and address of the ATV or UTV owner, the license plate number and proof of insurance.
In the event you have damaged another’s property and you cannot locate the owner, you are required to give the above information to police as soon as possible. You must also report the accident to the police if the accident involves the death or personal injury of another or damage estimated at $600 or more to the property of another person.
If the accident results in the death of another, a personal injury or property damage in excess of $1,000, you are also required to file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident (MV-104) with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The report must be filed within 10 days of the accident, with a copy sent to the county sheriff or police commissioner.
- When operating an ATV, you must remain seated on the permanent, regular seat.
- You may not ride an ATV with a passenger, unless the ATV is designed to carry a passenger.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV a speed too fast for existing conditions or potential hazards.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV in a careless, reckless or negligent manner.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV on the tracks or right-of-way of a railroad.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV in a tree nursery or planting in a manner which damages or destroys growing stock or creates a substantial risk of damage or destruction.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV within 100 feet of a dwelling between midnight and 6 A.M. at a speed greater than necessary to maintain forward progress.
- It is unlawful to use an ATV or UTV to pull another a person who is riding on skis, a toboggan, a sleigh, a sled or a trailer, unless the device is attached to the ATV by a tow-bar or other rigid connection. In other words, you can’t use a rope or chain to ride behind an ATV or UTV.
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV on the ice or public water within 100 feet of a person, fishing shanty or shelter at a speed greater than necessary to maintain forward progress.
- It is unlawful to ride an ATV or UTV over an area cleared of snow for ice skating, unless necessary for access to public waters.