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 West Virginia in this article. It should also be noted that, while I am an attorney, I am not your attorney, am not licensed in West Virginia and am not giving legal advice. If you have questions, you should consult a local attorney.
How does West Virginia define an ATV?
West Virginia defines an ATV, or all-terrain vehicle, as “any motor vehicle fifty-two inches or less in width, having an unladen weight of 800 pounds or less, traveling on 3 or more low pressure tires with a seat designed to be straddled by the rider, designed for or capable of travel over unimproved terrain.”
Are you required to title and register your ATV or UTV in West Virginia?
West Virginia does require that your ATV or UTV be titled if you are going to ride it on any public lands in West Virginia. On the other hand, all-terrain vehicles are specifically exempt from the registration requirements of other vehicles in West Virginia.
Are you required to have a driver’s license to operate an ATV or UTV in West Virginia?
West Virginia does not require the operator of an ATV or UTV to possess a valid driver’s license unless, as discussed further below, they are under the age of 18 and riding with a passenger.
West Virginia ATV and UTV Youth Regulations
The following rules and regulations apply to youth ATV and UTV operators in West Virginia:
- Any operators under the age of 18 must have a certificate indicating successful completion of a vehicle rider safety course. Note, the course is free to take.
- Any operator or passenger on an ATV who is under 18 must wear a size-appropriate helmet. If you need a helmet, this is the one we love. Not that a parent may face legal consequences if they know their child is riding without a helmet.
- Any operator under 18 years of age may not carry a passenger unless the operator possesses a level 2 intermediate driver’s license.
Are you able to ride an ATV or UTV on the street in West Virginia?
In general, you are not permitted to operate an ATV or UTV on a public street in West Virginia. This includes all highways and any street with a center line or more than two lanes. So basically, you can ride an ATV or UTV on a single or two-lane road without a center line.
If you are going from one riding area to another, you are permitted to along the shoulder of a street for up to 10 miles at a speed of 25 miles per hour or less.
You are permitted to cross a public street on an ATV or UTV in West Virginia under the following circumstances:
- You must come to a complete stop before crossing.
- You must yield to oncoming traffic.
- You must cross at a 90-degree angle.
- The ATV or UTV must be equipped with operable and illuminated headlights and tail lights.
There may also be exceptions to the general prohibition of ATV and UTV use on the street in certain areas of West Virginia. Any municipality, county or HOA (with approval of county commissioners) may pass an ordinance permitting ATV or UTV use beyond what is permitted statewide.
West Virginia Passed New Law Enabling Street-Legal ATVs and UTVs
As of February 4, 2020, it is now possible to make your ATV or UTV street legal in West Virginia. Thank you to Chad Freeman for providing us with the updated law! In addition to the requirements discussed below, you must register and license your ATV or UTV in the same manner as registering a motorcycle.
There are still important limitations where you cannot ride an ATV or UTV even if it is street legal. They are as follows:
- You cannot ride on an interstate highway:
- You cannot ride on a highway in a first class highway with a posted speed limit higher than 55 mph that is also near a grade-separated portion of the highway;
Equipment Required for street-legal ATVs and UTVs
To make your ATV or UTV street legal in West Virginia, it must first be equipped with all of the following equipment:
- One or more headlamps;
- One or more tail lamps;
- One or more brake lamps;
- A tail lamp or other lamp constructed and placed to illuminate the registration plate with a white light;
- One or more red reflectors on the rear;
- Amber or red electric turn signals, one on each side of the front and rear;
- Braking system, other than a parking brake;
- A horn or other warning device;
- A muffler and, if required by an applicable federal statute or rule, an emission control system;
- Rearview mirrors on the right and left side of the driver;
- A windshield, unless the operator wears eye protection while operating the vehicle;
- A speedometer, illuminated for nighttime operation;
- For vehicles designed by the manufacturer for carrying one or more passengers, a seat designed for passengers; and
- Tires that have at least 2/32 inches or greater tire tread.
Required ATV and UTV Equipment in West Virginia
The following equipment is required on an ATV or UTV in West Virginia:
- A working muffler system that has not been modified.
- A spark arrester.
- If you are operating your ATV or UTV from sunset to sunrise, it must have operable and illuminated headlights and tail lights.
- If you are carrying a passenger on an ATV, it must have a manufacturer-designed seat for said passenger.
Other ATV/UTV Regulations in West Virginia
- It is unlawful to operate an ATV or UTV while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- By statute, the state will offer a free riding safety course to anyone wanting to take it.
- The restrictions herein do not apply when you are riding your ATV or UTV on private land with the permission of the owner.
- The restrictions herein do no apply to ATVs and UTV used solely for lawful non-recreational commercial purposes such as farming, ranching, oil and gas operations, timbering, surveying and public utilities access.