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What Is The Minimum Age To Drive An ATV / UTV?

What Is The Minimum Age To Drive An ATV / UTV?

ATV riding is an enjoyable sport that appeals to individuals of all ages, including teenagers and children who are not yet eligible to drive a car. While many ATVs are too large for young children to handle safely, there is a wide range of ATVs specifically designed for teenagers and smaller-framed kids, making them suitable for younger ages. There is no maximum age limit for driving an ATV, but there is indeed a minimum age requirement.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably wondered what the minimum age for riding an ATV or UTV is. Whether you’re a teenager eager to hit the off-road trails or a parent seeking information for your enthusiastic teenager, you’ve come to the right place.

Here is the short answer! The minimum age to drive an ATV or UTV varies by jurisdiction, but it is typically around 16 years old. However, age requirements may differ depending on the specific region or country where the ATV/UTV is being operated, so it’s important to check local laws and regulations.

 This article covers a wealth of information on this topic, including details from various States in the United States. So keep reading to learn more!

United States ATV/UTV Minimum Age Laws

The answer varies depending on where you live. In the US, there is no federal law to dictate a universally agreed minimum age for legal ATV riding, but each state has different age limits.

Riding on private land is not restricted and some trails are designed for youngsters. State laws usually apply to riding in public or on the highway. In most cases, riders will need a license to drive any vehicle on a highway, including an ATV.

In many states, the legal minimum age to drive an off-road vehicle is 16 but there are variations and some extra guidelines:

Arizona – it is law that riders under 18 have to wear protective headgear

Arkansas – children under 11 can ride an ATV with supervision, and those over 12 can legally ride an ATV

California – children under 14 can ride as long they are physically tall enough to reach the controls

Delaware – the minimum age to ride alone is 12 although younger riders are allowed to drive with adult supervision

Florida – minimum age is 16 unless riders wear protective headgear with eye protection

Idaho – no minimum but under 18s need to wear head protection

Indiana – no minimum but riders under 14 need adult supervision

Iowa – minimum age is 12 unless part of an organized training facility or supervised by an adult with a full license

Kentucky – under 16s have to wear helmets and are restricted to engine sizes of 90cc or below unless supervised. Under 12s are not allowed to ride anything bigger than 70cc.

Maryland – minimum age is 12 with the supervision of adults carrying a valid driving license

Massachusetts – any riders under 18 have to pass a state-run safety course before they are allowed to ride. Those under 16 must be supervised by a parent or guardian who has also completed part of the course. Riders and parents have to carry evidence that they have completed the course. Under-14s are not allowed to ride an ATV unless competing in a controlled race and they are limited to small engine size.

Michigan – the laws in Michigan vary for teenagers of different ages. Anyone under 16 has to have passed a safety certificate and be supervised by a parent or guardian. No one under 10 is allowed to ride a quad with four wheels or more. Under 12s can ride four-wheelers as long as they are on private land owned by their parents. Under 16s are not allowed to drive three-wheelers. There are also regards about riding on the roads, with under 12s not allowed to cross a road and under 16s only allowed if they are carrying their safety certificates.

Mississippi – kids under 16 are allowed to drive an ATV as long as they wear a helmet.

Montana – the minimum age for riding on a road is 12. Anyone over 16 needs to hold a license to ride on the road while those below have to have a safety certified and be supervised by a license holder. There is no minimum for riding on private land.

New Hampshire – everyone under 18 has to wear a helmet with eye protection. Anyone driving on a highway needs a car license but children aged 12 or over can ride as long as they are supervised by an adult who holds a license. Under-16s also need to have passed a training course approved by the state.

New Jersey – minimum age to drive on public land is 14, Under 18s need to have completed a safety course, and under 16s are limited to engines less than 90cc.

New Mexico – no minimum age. Under 10s have to ride an ATV that is not too big for them as well as pass a safety course and be supervised. Everyone under 18 has to wear full head protection and is not allowed to carry passengers.

New York – minimum age is 10 and under 16s are only allowed to ride on private land under the supervision of their parents. There is also an ATV safety course that is compulsory for under 16s.

North Carolina – minimum age is 8 with engine size restrictions for under 10s of 70cc and 16s of 90cc.

Ohio – under 16s have to be supervised by an adult and can only ride on private land unless agreed by the Department of Natural Resources.

Oklahoma – no minimum but under 18s need to wear head protection and only those with a driving license can drive on a highway

Oregon – the minimum age for driving in public is 7 and under 16s have to be supervised by an adult who holds a permit.

Pennsylvania – the minimum age is 8 and under 16s require adult supervision

Rhode Island – under 16s are not allowed to ride on highways and older teenagers need to hold a driver’s license to ride an ATV on the road

South Carolina – minimum age is 6

Texas – no minimum but adult supervision needed for under 14s

Utah – head protection is a legal requirement for under 18s

Vermont – minimum age of 12 unless on private land or supervised by a responsible adult

Virginia – under 12s have to stick to 70cc or less and under 16s can go as far as 90cc engines.

West Virginia – all under 18s have to have a safety certificate before they can drive

Wisconsin – under 12s only allowed engines below 90cc and can’t ride on public land. Over 12s can ride on public land as long as they have helmets, and adult supervision and have passed a safety course.

Manufacturer Recommendations

While each state has its laws according to minimum ages, manufacturers have their recommendations. Their range of smaller engines are specifically designed for younger teenagers and kids but they all recommend wearing safety gear, especially a helmet and eye protection.

Most manufacturers state that children should not ride ATVs designed for adults, but states do not impose these guidelines as law. The general opinion is that parents and supervising adults should be capable of deciding what their children can drive.

Kids need to have the physical size and strength to manage the weight of the vehicle, but some kids are better riders than most adults!

Minimum Age for Carrying Passengers

Most ATVs are not designed to carry passengers, although you might see plenty of people pairing up on single-seat machines. Manufacturers cover themselves by stating that carrying passengers is not allowed, and most states will not allow under-18s to carry passengers on the highway, but what riders get up to on private land is not controlled.

UTVs designed to carry more than one passenger are usually safe, but again under 18s should not be carrying passengers on the highway in most states.

At the end of the day, whether kids are old enough to ride an ATV or UTV is largely a case of using common sense. The more skilled the child, the more able they are to control bigger machines but oversizing an ATV is a recipe for disaster.

Smaller engines might be considered safe enough as the maximum speeds are lower and smaller machines are easier for lighter people to control. Riding at speeds needs quick thinking and fast reactions which might be harder for younger children, but as long as they ride sensibly and build up their skills slowly with supervision, younger children can start their ATV adventures as soon as they are big enough to control their machine.

Are They Additional Requirements or License For Your Kid’s ATV Riding Besides The Minimum Age?

The answer to this question can vary depending on your jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of your child’s ATV/UTV operation. However, to ensure your child’s safety and compliance with the law, here are some important points to consider:

  1. Check with local authorities: Reach out to your local authorities or relevant regulatory bodies to gather accurate information regarding any additional requirements. They will provide you with the most up-to-date guidelines specific to your area.
  2. Safety courses and training programs: In some regions, there may be specific ATV/UTV safety courses or training programs available. These courses aim to enhance riders’ knowledge, skills, and safety awareness. Although not always mandatory, participating in these programs can provide your child with valuable insights and practical experience that contribute to safer ATV/UTV operation.
  3. Familiarize yourself with local rules and regulations: Different locations, such as public trails, parks, or designated off-road areas, may have their own rules and regulations. Take the time to understand these guidelines and any permits or licenses that may be required for your child to ride legally. Some areas might have age-specific restrictions, trail permits, or licenses that need to be obtained before your child can ride an ATV/UTV.
  4. Public road considerations: If your child intends to drive an ATV/UTV on public roads or highways, it’s essential to know that separate licenses, such as a driver’s license or a specific endorsement, may be required. Operating these vehicles on public roads may subject your child to additional laws and regulations, including registration, insurance, and compliance with traffic laws.

To ensure that your child remains compliant with the law and rides safely, it’s highly recommended to consult local authorities, ATV/UTV clubs, or relevant organizations. They can provide you with specific information tailored to your area, enabling you to make informed decisions regarding your child’s ATV/UTV adventures.

If you haven’t gotten all the safety gear for your kids yet, check out this ATV Protective Gear For Kids article on this site. Or visit the Recommended Section to see the gear I’ve tried and tested for you.

Thanks so much for reading to the end!

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