Learn more about new OHV laws taking effect Jan. 1

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November 12th, 2008

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has a new Web page designed to inform off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts about new laws that will affect OHV use starting Jan. 1, 2009.

A Web link at www.azgfd.gov/ohv will take you to a list of answers to frequently asked questions about the new laws and the rules and regulations. Some of the provisions include:

  • The requirement to purchase an annual “OHV Decal” for any OHV designed by the manufacturer primarily for off-highway use and weighing 1,800 pounds or less, in order to operate that OHV in Arizona. This generally includes all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), side-by-sides (utility vehicles), dirt bikes, and some sand rails. The OHV Decal can be purchased through the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) after Jan. 1. It is anticipated that MVD will announce the cost of the Decal soon.

  • 4X4’s, trucks, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), cars, and other recreational vehicles (motor homes) are not required to purchase the OHV Decal.

  • Travel is limited to roads, trails and areas that are designated open by the land management agency for motorized vehicle use.

  • Travel by motorized vehicles that causes damage to wildlife habitat, riparian areas, cultural or natural resources, or property or improvements is prohibited.

  • OHVs generating sound greater than 96 decibels must have a muffler or other noise dissipative device

  • Anyone under the age of 18 will be required to wear a properly fitted and fastened USDOT approved helmet when riding any OHV.

The new laws were passed thanks in large part to a joint effort between Arizona sportsmen, conservation groups, off-highway vehicle (OHV) user groups, elected officials, and other members of the public. The goal of the new regulations is to provide better OHV management and protection of natural resources while maintaining access. For more information go to: www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

18 Responses to “Learn more about new OHV laws taking effect Jan. 1”

  1. I believe it is great to have funds to expand an arizona trail system for OHV’s. If it works it would reduce the riding presure on small areas close to Phoenix and Tucson that create a negitive image for riders. Also, I hope it controls young riders that ride close to subdivisions w/0 any parent supervision.


  2. Are we able to purchase the OHV decals now for our off road vechiles?


  4. Mike,

    I don’t think currently there is anyway from keeping the Legislature from raiding the fund. We are hopeful with the Law Enforcement Officers part of the package, they will leave the fund in tact so we can hire those new officers and increase the management of OHVs in Arizona.

  5. Ray,

    These are two separate, yet related questions. ALL OHVs that are made primarily for off-highway travel over unimproved terrain and are 1800 pounds or less unladen weight need to purchase the OHV decal. So short answer long, yes, street legal vehicles need to purchase the OHV Decal. After you purchase the OHV Decal, when your registration comes up for renewal, provided you are mainly an off highway users, your registration will be FREE and you’ll pay $3 in vehicle license tax. So the cost of the Decal plus $3 will be your registration cost as opposed to the current system that is based on the blue book value of your vehicle.

    You are allowed to cross and ride on specified trails on State Land with the OHV Decal. If you stop to camp, picnic or etc., you will be required to get the State Land Permit. Also if you drive onto a staging area that is on State Land you will have to purchase the State Land permit for your tow vehicle. The Decal is for your OHV only and will be tied to that machine by the license plate and license number. If you have a hunting or fishing license and are actively in the act of hunting or fishing you can also use state land. However, if you are camping you need the State Land Permit to camp there.

    The Decal will be available for purchase from MVD January 1, 2009 on Servicearizona.com and at all of their offices on January 2, 2009. If you purchase the Decal online you will get a receipt that says you have purchased your Decal that you need to carry until your Decal comes in the mail. If you go to an office you will get it then.


  7. if we now have to pay $25.00 for the new reg. sticker per OHV, do we still have to pay for the family pass at $75.00 or the individual one.


  8. One thing that isn’t mentioned, is that the sticker must be attached to a license plate. To get the plate, both our bikes (RMX250, YZ125) must be titled, then a plate and yearly registration must be purchased, and the license plate attached to the back of the bikes. These bikes were never intended to have plates, nor is there a provision to mount them without drilling holes in our rear fenders and kluging some kind of mounting bracket to it.

    Lets see… that’s $75 annually for the Trust land permit, $25 per bike for the sticker, plus annual registration fees. My son and I ride our bikes about 4 times a year, so the total: $75 plus $25 per sticker, per bike and lets say an annual $10 registration fee/bike adds up to $145 total or ~$36 each time we ride. Quite a hefty tax being imposed…
    I understand the need for more rangers & supervision as there’s alot of crazies out there, but for my son and I who obey the rules, and ride to enjoy the Arizona scenery this is quite pricey for 4 rides per year. I understand there’s no guarantee the funds won’t be sidetracked to other state funds. In this economy how long will that take to happen? It’s also ironic how much damage was and continues to be done to the land from mining. Open pits, tailing piles, abandoned equipment, etc… All the millions in mining fees collected over the decades haven’t helped the situation and I’m guessing revenues from this new sticker will be squandered in much the same way.
    Kevin-Chandler, AZ

  9. From what we’ve heard from the State Land Office the only time you’ll need to purchase the Recreational Permit is if you plan to stop and recreate on State Land or if you park a tow vehicle for your machines on State Land. The Decal allows for crossing state land and use of their trails. Any other use would require purchase of the permit. If you plan on having more than one family member out at a time then you will need to purchase the family permit ($75) for State Land use.

    Feel free to give me a call with any other questions you might have.


    Jim Harken

  10. Here are the answers that we can provide:

    You’re correct, the bikes aren’t made to have a plate. We at Game and Fish understand that and ask that you make the plate visible. MVD says they want it on the back, we just want you to have it on the machine and as visible as possible.

    The new OHV Decal will allow your bikes to go on and across the state land trails. The only reason you might need the permit is if you have a tow vehicle or you want to stop (Picnic, camp, etc.) on the state land. Otherwise the decal allows for crossing the state land (Of which trail riding is a part). If you get it for your tow vehicle you would only need one permit at $75, your machines are covered by the Decal. Or if you purchase the family pass to recreate on State Land (the $75 one) you only have to purchase one permit to cover your entire family, not each machine.

    I’m not sure what you mean about the $10 registration. If you mean the MVD registration of the bikes, each bike will only be $3 for registration after the purchase of the OHV Decal. So $25 for the Decal, $3 for the registration and possibly $37.50 (half of $75) for state land use leads to each bike costing more in the range of $65.50. That’s about 16.75 per ride. I know it’s not the best of savings, but it should be less than the blue book cost of your bikes, which registration is currently based upon.

    I completely understand your concern since you’re not out as much as other folks. Unfortunately we have folks out there that have never paid a dime to use outdoor Arizona and treat it as such. We hope that this legislation is at least a step in the right direction to crack down on those knuckle-heads that ruin it for all of us. If you have any other questions or comments please feel free to call me at my direct line listed below.

    Thanks and Happy New Year!


    Jim Harken

  11. First of all, I’m not sure what federal lands you ride on that don’t require some type of permit or registration to ride on, but that’s another question.

    I know that in all the Forests in the state of Arizona you’re vehicle MUST be street legal to ride on any of the forest roads. As far as I remember you are also required to have at least an RV plate to ride on the trails in the forests. This would also require that you purchase the OHV Decal to operate.

    Part of the new legislation says that “All vehicles will need to be at least titled in Arizona no later than July 1, 2009.” That would then require you to purchase the OHV Decal to operate within the borders of the State of Arizona.

    In crafting the OHV Decal legislation, the BLM and National Forests were all at the table. If your vehicle was: 1.) Made by the manufacturer for use over unimproved terrain and 2.) The vehicle is 1,800 pounds or less then your machine is required to display the OHV Decal. It’s my understanding that this is not a jurisdictional issue, if you are in the State of Arizona you need to have the OHV Decal to operate. The only place that this is not the case is in any of the Native American reservations and/or nations or if your machine is plated or stickered in another state. Otherwise you’ll need to purchase the $25 Decal.

    All BLM officers and all Forest Service Officers will be enforcing this law on Federal Lands. All law enforcement agencies will be enforcing the law eventually as well.

    If you have any other comments or questions, please feel free to call me at the number listed below.

    Thanks for the good questions!

    Jim Harken

  12. I take my atv to Mexico and ride with friends who are retired there. When they bring their atvs from Mexico to ride here in america do they need to get American titles, licenses, and off-road decals for their atvs which meet all of the mexican requirements, ie none?

  13. I have several old motorcycles that have been registered street legal for years. The current tax/registration fees are all about $16 per year . This fee will cost considerably more for bikes that are ridden off road only 3 or 4 times. This law is very confusing. Why are jeeps and larger vehicles exempt? They have as much or more impact off road than a 58 year old on 20 or 30 year old bikes. Will my sticker on the plate be accepted as street legal registration when I ride in other states, as my current registration sticker has always been? I am willing to agree a sticker of some sort is in order to help with off road areas, (fat chance in a state that needs money) but not from a selected group of the public (small vehicle users) who already are paying for tags. Will the state know that I have an off road sticker when registration renewal comes, since I am responsible for my own sticker? Will I still get renewal notices in the mail for $3 after I get this sticker?
    I guess there was input from a lot of groups on this, but it sure came out badly for a lot of us. Wouldn’t a simple $10 sticker for ALL off road users and no changes to titles, registrations and other fees have been way simpler?

  14. Sandra Lee Robertson on January 11th, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I have searched many links on your website to find info on: LOCATONS of LAKES for an 18′ powerboat, (that wll not be used for skiing, unless my kids come in for their 4 day visit annually) near CASA GRANDE, AZ.

    Question< ARE THERE ANY? Is there ONE???

    I found one on your site that is less than 30 miles away, but the video clip only showed still water??? I would like to know if there is water in it, year round? Pitache–o Resivore or something like that.

    I moved here 4 years ago and have watched the tires on the trailer go flatter,(LOL!!!) the dust builds up on it, then I squirt it off, a couple of guys have asked me if I’d like to sell it (Which I do not want to do, BUT I ALSO DO NOT WANT TO DRIVE THE LONG DISTANCE to LAKE PLEASNT OR THE OTHER LAKES PAST APACHE JUNCTION….”for a couple hours of boating”.

    Please advise,

    Sandra Lee

  15. Buz,

    Good questions about OHVs.

    This is actually an international issue. Your friends from Mexico do not need anything from the American side. If they do get anything here they will not be allowed to leave the country with the machines unless they pay export tariff’s and some other rather high export taxes.

    Keeping the machines as they were in Mexico is what you need to do.


    Jim Harken

  16. Sandra;

    No, Picacho Reservoir is not a place to go boating. Your closest lakes are probably Canyon Lake (closest town is Apache Junction) or Saguaro Lake (just over the ride from Mesa/Tempe). You will find both of them a scenic delight that will make you wish you had gotten your boat on the water much sooner. By the way, in winter we stocked both of those lakes with trout and they also have bass, catfish, sunfish and carp.

    Another lake to try, although it entails a little more driving, is Lake Pleasant on the northern edge of Phoenix (I-17 to Carefree Highway then head west) or Bartlett Lake (I-17 to Carefree Highway then head east).

    Once you get back into the boating mode, there are the world-class dream lakes like Powell and Mead to try, or Lake Havasu along the Colorado River. By the way, Mead is the largest man-made reservoir in North America. Powell is the second largest (1,800 miles of shoreline).

    There’s a whole new world waiting out there for you. Enjoy.


  17. Not going to complain about the prices since it’s a done deal and we’re in the process of paying for everything. My issues are similar to one above about mounting plates, especially on kids smaller bikes. I have no desire to drill, modify, or fabricate anything on our offroad bikes for a plate. Neither would you drill into the quarter panel of your car. Why didn’t someone think of just using a decal like the California stickers that are affixed to the fork leg? Safety is also not taken into consideration here. If anyone has seen youngsters tumble on a bike the last thing you want is a sharp edged liscence plate being the first thing to come in contact on your child. You can have my money (it’s on the way), just apply some common sense to the process other than “just do it”. Somebody please grab an OHV liscence plate and walk out to a childs 50cc or 65cc motorcycle before you respond to this. Thank you.

    Yuma, AZ

  18. robert,
    i wondered the same thing, my fix, local hardware store has pipe bands for hanging 7/8 in. electicaltubing on a wall, with or with out rubber coating, two of these work perfect around the rear grab bar. and the small screw hole that would normaly drill into the wall, would bolt through the liscence plate. cost is about 2.50 at Ace. no drilling, no cussing simple install.

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