Michigan ATV Laws: What You Need To Know

ATV Driver depicting Michigan ATV laws

Spring and summer in Michigan mean all kinds of outdoor sports – especially those involving vehicles.

When it comes to ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles) or ORV’s (Off Road Vehicles), it is important to know what Michigan ATV laws are. If you are planning on riding your favorite four-wheeler, make sure you know what the laws are.

According to Michigan’s ORV Rider’s Education Course:

‘”ORV” means any motor vehicle designed for or capable of cross-country travel on or immediately over land, water, sand, snow, ice, marsh, swampland, or other natural terrain.

  • ORV vehicles include but are not limited to, a multi-track or multi-wheel drive vehicle; an ATV; a motorcycle or related 2-wheel, 3-wheel, or 4-wheel vehicle; an amphibious machine; or other means of transportation deriving power from a source other than muscle or wind.
  • This definition does not include a registered snowmobile.

“ATV” means a 3, 4, or 6-wheel vehicle designed for off-road use that has low-pressure tires, has a seat designed to be straddled by the rider, and is powered by a 50cc to 1,000cc gasoline engine or an engine of comparable size using other fuels.”

Michigan’s ORV and ATV Laws

Near the end of 2016, Governor Snyder signed a new law allowing ATV and ORV users’ access to state forest roads in the Lower Peninsula, which allows for about 500 miles of usable roads. It has bumped up tourism and given those who were thinking of purchasing an ATV the push they were looking for.

There are three main areas regulating ATV use in Michigan:

Age Restrictions

Children under 10 aren’t allowed to ride 4 wheel ATVs in Michigan – even child-sized – unless they are on their parents’ private property. In addition:

  • Children under 10 are allowed to ride 2 wheel ATVs like dirt bikes with parental supervision and certification.
  • Children ages 10-16 may ride an ATV if they have completed an ORV Rider Safety Education Course. In addition, they must be are under the visual supervision of an adult, and are in the proper setting.
  • 10 and 11-year-olds must be on land belonging to their parents. At age 12 and up, children may ride on public land and the shoulders of some roadways.

Safety Requirements

Crash tested helmets and goggles are required, as is protective gear (unlike Michigan’s motorcycle law).

Prohibited Substances

This is the big one. It is the one for which you could face criminal charges if you break it. Drinking and operating an ATV or ORV is the same as drinking and driving a car.

If you have a blood alcohol level of .08% while driving an ATV, you have broken the law. As they say on Michigan road signs: buzzed driving is drunk driving.

It’s not a risk you want to take. It’s important to note that any alcohol level in your blood could result in you getting convicted of criminal charges. If you get in an accident, even if your blood alcohol level is below .08%, the prosecutor can still argue that the amount in your bloodstream affected your driving.

Do You Need Help?

ATV use is treated by the State of Michigan in the same way as other motor vehicles, requiring the same amount of attention and safety. Since there are more riders out there, it is important to be safe and responsible while operating an ATV or ORV.

If you do find yourself facing charges related to improper operation of an ORV, contact us today to make sure your case gets the attention it deserves.

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