Off-Highway Vehicle Frequently Asked Questions
In 2008 the Arizona Legislature passed a law requiring OHVs to have a decal starting Jan. 1, 2009. This was done to help manage growth, protect wildlife habitat and help maintain recreational access. In 2018, the decal program was expanded to nonresidents, who are also required to purchase an OHV decal.
OHV DECAL / TITLE / LICENSE PLATE / REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS
- What is the legal definition of an off-highway vehicle?
- What vehicles need an OHV decal?
- How do I obtain an OHV decal and what does it cost?
- I live out of state. Can I continue to ride on my home state’s OHV decal?
- Where should my OHV decal be displayed?
- What steps do I need to take to be in compliance with the law?
- Does Arizona Game and Fish title or register OHVs?
- I have a titled plate and OHV decal — where can I ride?
- I lost my license plate and/or my OHV Decal, now what do I do?
- What equipment is required to operate my OHV in Arizona?
- What equipment does my OHV need to make it street legal?
SAFE, ETHICAL AND RESPONSIBLE OPERATION
- Where can I learn more about OHV training?
- Where can I find places to ride?
- Do I need a permit to operate my OHV on State Trust Land?
- What are the rules and laws concerning OHVs?
- Are there laws about alcohol and drugs for OHV driving?
- Do I need to be registered or licensed to drive my OHV?
- Are there any OHV Decal exceptions?
OHV Decal/Title/License Plate/Registration Requirements
A: Off-highway vehicles are defined as being a motorized vehicle that is operated primarily off of highways and is designed, modified or purpose-built primarily for recreational nonhighway all-terrain travel.
This includes a tracked or wheeled vehicle, utility vehicle, all-terrain vehicle, motorcycle, four-wheel drive vehicle, dune buggy, sand rail, amphibious vehicle, ground effects or air-cushion vehicle and any other means of land transportation deriving motive power from a source other than muscle or wind.
A: All off-highway vehicles (OHVs) designed by the manufacturer primarily for use over unimproved terrain and that weigh 2,500 pounds or less are required by law to display a valid OHV decal to operate on public and state trust lands in Arizona. This includes “street legal” vehicles that meet these two requirements.
A: There are two types of OHV decal, both of which cost $25 (plus a processing fee) and are valid for one year from the purchase date. The decal types include:
- A resident OHV decal, which is available to Arizona residents and can be purchased through the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) offices statewide, at an authorized third-party MVD service provider or online at www.servicearizona.com.
- A nonresident OHV decal, which can only be purchased online through an Arizona Game and Fish Department portal account. The decal is not sold at AZGFD offices. Register for an account
A: No. In 2019 the OHV decal program was amended to require out-of-state residents to purchase a nonresident OHV decal to ride within the state. Decals are not transferable between OHVs and each machine must have its own sticker. More information
A: For residents, the decal is required to be applied to the upper left corner of the vehicle’s license plate, which needs to be visible on the rear of the OHV.
Nonresidents must display the decal on the left rear quarter panel of OHVs with three or more wheels or on the left leg fork on two-wheeled vehicles.
- The OHV must have an Arizona certificate of title in your name. If the vehicle is not titled in your name or you have an out-of-state title, you will need to visit an MVD Office or authorized third-party provider to obtain an Arizona certificate of title.
- You may request a motor vehicle record (MVR) online at www.servicearizona.com or visit an MVD Office or authorized third-party service provider if you need to confirm the vehicle has been issued a license plate and title. The vehicle identification number (VIN), your driver’s license number and a $3 fee are required to obtain an MVR.
- The vehicle must have an Arizona license plate securely attached to the rear of the vehicle and be clearly visible, with a current OHV decal affixed to the upper left corner of the license plate. Nonresident decals must be displayed on the left rear quarter panel of OHVs with three or more wheels or on the left leg fork on two-wheeled vehicles.
- Those wanting to ride on improved and maintained roads (streets, highways or Forest Service roads) your OHV can be registered for “street legal” use in Arizona. Your vehicle will first need to be titled and needs to meet all on-highway equipment requirements.
A: No. For information about titling or registering an OHV visit your local MVD office or www.azdot.gov/mvd.
A: The title-only license plate allows for travel on roads and trails that do not require “street legal” registration. Exceptions to the “street legal” clause are: (You’re covered with the Title plate and OHV Decal)
- An ATV or OHV operating on a dirt road that is located in an unincorporated area of this state. For this purpose, “dirt road” means an unpaved or ungraveled road that is not maintained by the state, county, city or town.
- A person operating an OHV who is participating in an OHV special event.
- An ATV or OHV that is only incidentally operated or moved on a highway.
- A golf cart used in the operation of a golf course or only incidentally operated or moved on a highway.
A: For vehicles that are registered in Arizona, you may obtain a replacement for a $5.00 fee at any MVD office or authorized third-party provider. Out-of-state residents needing to replace their nonresident OHV decal should contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
- A U.S. Department of Transportation-approved helmet is required to be worn by all riders under 18 years old (ARS 28-1179B)
- Brakes (ARS 28-1179A.1)
- Lighted head and tail lights if operated between one half-hour after sunset and one half-hour before sunrise (ARS 28-1179A.2)
- A muffler or noise dissipative device that prevents sound above 96 decibels (ARS 28-1179A.3)
- A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-approved spark-arrestor device (ARS 28-1179A.4)
- Eye protection is required for operators of vehicles not equipped with a windshield (ARS 28-964A)
- License plate securely fastened to the rear of the OHV and clearly visible (ARS 28-2512D.1&2)
- Rearview mirror (ARS 28-964B)
- Brake light and at least one red rear reflector (if tail light does not reflect) (ARS 28-927)
- Seat and footrests for the operator and passenger if the vehicle is designed to carry a passenger (ARS 28-964B)
- Sand dunes and certain areas designated by a land managing agency may require a safety flag. The flag shall be at least 6-x-12 inches and attached to the OHV and flying at least 8 feet above the surface of the ground. (28-1179A.5)
- A license plate light. (ARS 28-925C)
- A horn audible from a distance of at least 200 feet. (ARS 28-954A)
- Proper insurance. (ARS 28-4142A)
- Emissions: Certain areas may also require you to have your OHV emissions tested. (ARS 49-542C&D)
Safe, Ethical and Responsible Operation
A: For more information on riding safety and training visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department OHV education webpage.
A: The Arizona OHV Laws and Places to Ride brochure includes multiple suggestions within the state as well as the latest laws. Visit the Arizona State Parks & Trails website for even more trails and downloadable maps.
A: Yes. You must have a recreational permit or a hunting or fishing license to be on State Land. However, a hunting or fishing license is valid only if you are actively engaged in hunting or fishing.
Recreational permits are available for individuals and families and are issued for one year from the date of purchase. Recreational permits can be purchased at any State Land Department office, by mail or telephone at (602) 364-2753. Always contact the State Land Department for the latest restrictions and rules to access state-owned land.
A: Each agency that manages public land — such as the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and others — has its own rules, regulations and laws. Check with the local land management agency office(s) about rules, requirements or any road/trail closures due to wet roads, sensitive habitat, wildlife breeding or nesting areas before riding on public land.
A: It is illegal to drink alcohol or use drugs and operate an OHV. You can be arrested for DUI even if you are on a backcountry trail. The penalties are the same as with any other DUI and include jail time and the loss of your driver’s license.
A: State motor vehicle laws apply on many Forest Service and BLM roads, so your vehicle must be registered and you must be licensed. A good rule of thumb is if a passenger car can use the road, your vehicle will need to be “street legal.” Some roads and trails are open to unlicensed recreational motor vehicles. Check with the local land manager for information on road status.
A: A person may operate an all-terrain vehicle or an off-highway vehicle in Arizona without an off-highway vehicle user indicia (OHV Decal) if any of the following applies:
- The person is participating in an off-highway special event.
- The person is operating an all-terrain vehicle or off-highway vehicle on private land.
- The person is loading or unloading an all-terrain vehicle or off-highway vehicle from a vehicle.
- During a period of emergency or if the operation is directed by a peace officer or other public authority.