OHV Laws & Regulations

Equipment Requirements

What equipment is required to operate my OHV in Arizona?

  • A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-approved spark arrestor device.
  • A muffler or noise dissipative device which prevents sound above 96 decibels.
    Download J1287 Measurement of Exhaust Sound Levels of Stationary Motorcycles External Link
  • For those under 18, a properly fitted and fastened U.S. DOT-approved helmet.
  • Brakes.
  • Lighted headlights and taillights, if the OHV is operated between one half-hour after sunset and one half-hour before sunrise.
  • Sand dunes and certain areas designated by a land managing agency may require a safety flag. This flag shall be at least 6 by 12 inches and attached to the OHV and flown at least eight feet above the surface of the level ground.

What equipment is required to make my OHV street legal?
In order to register an OHV in Arizona, it must have the following equipment:

  • At least one brake which can be operated by hand or foot
  • Brake light
  • At least one, but not more than two, headlights which shine at least 500 feet ahead
  • At least one taillight visible for at least 500 feet to the rear
  • At least one red rear reflector, if not part of the taillight
  • License plate securely fastened to the rear of the OHV
  • License plate light
  • A horn audible from a distance of at least 200 feet
  • A muffler in good working order and in constant operation (muffler cutout, bypass or similar device prohibited)
  • Rearview mirror
  • Seat and footrests for the operator
  • Fuel tank cap
  • If you live in the Phoenix or Tucson metro areas you may also need to have your OHV emissions tested

Contact the Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Division External Link for more information on the documentation required, equipment, and inspections needed to register OHVs for “street or highway” use at (800) 251-5866. Contact adjoining states for information concerning what is required when riding or driving in those states.

Riding Laws


  • Travel is limited to roads, trails and areas which are designated open by the land management agency for motorized vehicle use.
  • Travel by motorized vehicles which cause damage to wildlife habitat, riparian areas, cultural or natural resources or property or improvements is prohibited.
  • Reckless operation is prohibited.
  • Removal or placement of regulatory signs is prohibited.
  • ARS 3-908 prohibits the destruction of protected native plants.
  • ARS 17-309A.1 and CR R12-4-320 make it unlawful to use motor vehicle to harass wildlife.

NO SIGN REMOVAL: No removal or placement of regulatory signs is allowed. OHV Volunteers work hard to repair damage to help keep sites open.

RIDING DOUBLE LAW: A vehicle may only carry what it is designed for while operating on streets and highways (Civil traffic; ARS 28-892).

EYE PROTECTION: Eye protection is required when operating on streets and highways (Civil traffic; ARS 28-964A).

HELMETS: A person who is under 18 years of age may not operate or ride an On and Off-Highway Vehicle on public or State Land unless the person is wearing protective headgear which is properly fitted and fastened, designed for motorized vehicle use and has a minimum United States Department of Transportation Safety Rating.

RULES & REQUIREMENTS: Check with the appropriate agency about rules and requirements. Each agency which manages land in Arizona (the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Arizona State Land Department, etc.) has its own rules, regulations and laws to enforce. Rules and laws change. Before riding or driving on lands, check with the appropriate agency about rules and requirements. For a map showing land ownership status visit the Arizona State Land Department website External Link or call the Information Center of the State Office at (602) 417-9300.. Most areas restrict OHV use to established routes. Some OHV sites have seasonal closures to address erosion, watershed, and wildlife habitat protection concerns.

NATIONAL FOREST REGULATIONS:The policy for driving motorized vehicles in a National Forest is tied to the State of Arizona's motor vehicle policy. On all state, county, and those forest roads marked by a horizontally-numbered route marker (i.e. 249), the motorized vehicle and its driver must be “street legal” and licensed. On unmarked forest roads or forest roads which are marked by a vertical route number, the driver does not need to be licensed.

Vertical Sign
Vertical Signs:
Forest roads with vertically-numbered route markers mean you can ride with an RV plate and Decal or MC plate and OHV Decal.

Horizontal Signs: Forest roads with horizontally-numbered route markers mean you have to be "street legal" (MC plate and OHV Decal).

CROSSING MAINTAINED STREETS WITH AN UNREGISTERED/UNLICENSED VEHICLE: Local authorities may have jurisdiction on which paved streets and highways you may cross while riding or driving a vehicle which is not registered. Check with your local authorities, such as the County Sheriff, about current local regulations. If a vehicle is allowed to cross on a paved road, it must cross at a 90-degree angle where there are no obstructions and good visibility. Local authorities (such as the County Sheriff) have jurisdiction on which maintained streets and highways may be crossed while riding or driving a vehicle which is not registered.


Remember: Leave no trace and always obey this rule: “Nature Rules: Stay on Roads and Trails”.

Out-of-State Residents

NON-RESIDENT VEHICLE REGISTRATION and OHV DECAL: Whether an off-highway vehicle (OHV) operator is legal to operate an OHV in Arizona depends on their home state. If the machine follows the OHV registration/insurance and sticker requirements of the operator’s home state, it may be operated in Arizona for 30 consecutive days. The operator does not need an Arizona title plate, Arizona registration plate or OHV decal to ride on unmaintained, existing, open, authorized routes on public lands in Arizona. You must abide by Arizona laws, rules, and regulations of course. For example, if you ride on State Trust Land you will need a permit from the Arizona State Land Department. External Link

NON-RESIDENT CROSSING MAINTAINED ROADS: If you ride/drive on a “graded dirt road” (such as a maintained county road) and you and your vehicle are not properly registered for street and highway use, you will be subject to a citation. Arizona residents are also subject to citation with an Arizona MVD Title Plate (RV – Recreation Vehicle plate). This is because a title plate is only an indication that the vehicle has been titled in Arizona, NOT a registration plate (MC). There are exceptions for incidental travel on roads requiring registration. In general, incidental use would be crossing a street or conducting very limited travel on it for the purpose of access to OHV area/trails.

Recreate Responsibly

Hikers, bicyclists, equestrians and off-highway vehicle recreationists all have certain things in common, such as a love of the outdoors and the use of a motor vehicle to get where they are going. Knowing how to tread lightly with your vehicle is the responsibility of all vehicle operators.

Protect Your Privilege. Prevent OHV Site Closures. Abuse it, Lose it.
Excessive complaints about OHV recreation uses such as dust, noise, and speed can force OHV site closures. OHV sites are closed partly because of environmental damage from OHV use such as violation of clean air rules due to excessive dust from vehicles. Help prevent OHV site closures. Protect your privilege.

Nature Rules: Stay on roads and trails.”

  • Stay on designated routes. Do not make new trails.
  • Do not harass wildlife. Riding over plants destroys wildlife habitat.
  • Signs are important for travel and your safety. Do not destroy signs. It is against the law.
  • Avoid creating dust. Slow down.
  • Keep out of closed areas. Do not trespass.
  • Keep your OHV quiet. More complaints = more closures.
  • Leave gates as you found them, whether opened or closed.
  • Fences keep livestock confined – Do not cut fences.
  • Do not drive on a route smaller than the width of your vehicle.
  • Pack it in, pack it out. Do not litter.
  • Reduce the risk of fire. Make sure your vehicle’s spark arrester is in good working condition.
  • Be considerate of others by sharing trails. Pull off to the side of the trail, shut off your engine, and let horses and hikers pass.
  • Get involved. Join an OHV club and volunteer to maintain the trails you ride. Provide your input to land managers on OHV projects. Serve on the statewide Off Highway Vehicle Advisory Group: OHVAG through Arizona State Parks.


When you encounter wildlife in the backcountry, appreciate it, respect it, and LEAVE IT ALONE. It will return the favor. Keep your camp clean; bears and other animals are attracted to smelly, messy camps.

If you observe a game law violation OR wildlife harassment, contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 1-800-352-0700.


If you observe destruction of the environment or private property while in the outdoors, you may notify the proper authorities by calling the Arizona Game and Fish Department's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-VANDALS – 1-(800)-826-3257.

Backcountry Rules of Conduct

  • Leave gates the way you find them, whether open or closed.
  • Vehicles must travel on existing roads and trails.
  • Camp at least ¼ mile from any livestock or wildlife water catchments, tanks, etc.
  • Obey posted signs and respect closed areas.
  • If you pack it in — pack it out. Don't litter.

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