Have you ever wondered if ATVs are street legal in Pennsylvania? Well, look no further as we have the answer to this question. We have combed all the laws and regulations and will give you all the relevant information on this matter.
It is illegal to drive an ATV in Pennsylvania on any public street, road, or highway; except if it is a municipality road designated and posted for exclusive or dual-use, in the state of emergency, or for the purpose of crossing a road.
That is the letter of the law. But the situation on the ground is a bit different because local municipalities and other government authorities have the right to designate roads for ATV use. Which they do not exercise. Let’s get into details.
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Are ATVs Street legal in Pennsylvania?
As I’ve said above, state laws forbid the use of ATVs on all streets, roads, and highways; except in the state of an emergency, when so declared by a government agency with jurisdiction. Also, for the purpose of crossing otherwise not permitted road or highway, when traveling on a permitted road that intersects it.
Another exception is municipality and township roads that are specially designated by the proper authority that has jurisdiction over them. These roads need to be marked with green square signs that have a side silhouette of an ATV painted in white.
Unfortunately, not a single public road in Pennsylvania is permitted under this provision.
To be able to drive on these public roads, you don’t need to have a driver’s license but should have a safety certificate if under 16, and the vehicle must be properly titled, registered, and insured.
But, because no public streets or roads are permitted for ATV traffic, they are practically not street legal and can be used only on public trails in state forests.
Can I ride an ATV on public lands in Pennsylvania?
On the public lands in Pennsylvania, you are allowed to ride an ATV only in the areas and on trails that are clearly marked as permitted for use.
These areas are in the state forests, and you must stay within their limits. The use of ATVs on other forest roads, in state parks lands, and on game lands; is prohibited.
Can I ride an ATV on private lands in Pennsylvania?
Yes, in Pennsylvania it is allowed to ride on private property with very few state government regulations. Riders younger than 16 years are allowed to ride ATVs only on properties owned or leased by their parents or legal guardians.
But, local municipalities can impose an ordinance that further regulates the use of ATVs on private properties.
Do I have to register or title an ATV in Pennsylvania?
All ATVs that are not used solely for business or agricultural activities, must be titled and registered with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).
The titling fee is $22.50, but there are several exceptions to mandatory titling:
- ATVs are used only as utility vehicles in business and agricultural activities,
- ATVs owned by non-residents,
- ATVs owned by state residents but registered and used out-of-state.
There are two types of registrations, depending on whether it will be used on public roads and lands, or just on private property:
- General Registration – when it will be used on public roads and lands, costs $20 and you will be provided with a registration plate, expiration sticker, and a Registration card. It is valid for 2 years from the date of registration.
- Limited Registration – if it will be used only on private property owned by the owner of the vehicle. You will get a registration plate and a registration card, but not an expiration sticker and there is no fee because this registration type does not expire.
In case of a private sale, you need to pay the 6% sales tax and 6% use tax, but also to produce a filled out registration and titling application form, proof of VIN, and titling and registration fees if required. Proof of payments and application form needs to be mailed to:
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Snowmobile/ATV Registration Section
P.O. Box 8553, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8553
Do I need a driver’s license to operate an ATV in Pennsylvania?
No, a driver’s license is not required by state law to be able to operate an ATV. But, there are certain age-related limits when it comes to riding an ATV on public lands:
- 7 years or younger are not allowed to operate ATVs on public lands,
- ages 8 and 9 are prohibited from riding ATVs with an engine capacity larger than 70cc,
- ages 8 to 15 are allowed to ride ATVs on public lands only if in possession of an ATV safety certificate or under supervision by a certified safety instructor during the course,
- all riders under the age of 16 are not allowed to ride or cross highways and roads unless they have a safety certificate and are accompanied by an adult,
- all riders under the age of 16 are allowed to ride an ATV unsupervised only on private property owned or leased by their parent or legal guardian.
Are helmets mandatory in Pennsylvania?
Helmets are mandatory for all ATV riders on public roads and lands. But besides them, the vehicle must fulfill certain other requirements:
- has a brake system that can decelerate it at the rate of 14 feet per second at a speed of 20mph,
- has a muffler that brings engine noise to under 99dB when measured at 20’’ from the exhaust,
- white headlight capable of illuminating a person at 100 feet at night, and red taillight visible from 500 feet at night.
If you have ever wondered if ATVs are Street legal in PA, this should have covered everything you need to know.
In Pennsylvania, ATVs are allowed only on public roads and lands designated for their use. Local municipalities have a right to designate streets and roads in their jurisdiction, but none has done so yet.
Because of this, in Pennsylvania ATVs are effectively banned from the streets and roads and allowed only on trails in state forests.
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