Are ATVs Street Legal in Ohio?

Are ATVs Street Legal in Ohio?

  • Updated: 2023-07-04

ATVs are fun vehicles to ride, especially when you are planning to do this with either family members or friends. However, given that they are certainly not cars, you might want to know more about whether they are allowed on public streets or not. If you’re living in Ohio, then you should understand first how the law defines these vehicles. 

In this state, ATVs fall into a broader category of all-purpose vehicles, which means that any self-propelled piece of machinery that is primarily designed for cross-country travel, on more than one type of terrain can be taken into account. Of course, the same category also includes those vehicles operating on a cushion of air, but that’s another story. 

Legal requirements

Since we’re talking about vehicles, you might wonder if any legal registration is necessary, and the answer is “Yes”. One cannot operate an ATV within this state unless the registration process took place. You can file a special application for this and pay the necessary fee.

The information that you need to give includes a year, model, identification number, as well as a brief description of the ATV or UTV that you intend to drive on public roads. Obviously, information about the owner needs to be submitted as well, and this includes the residence, the name, and the business address if the case. 

Moreover, you will also need to submit a statement about the ATV’s equipment, given that any vehicle that goes out on public streets needs to comply with certain regulations. Once you have the license plate, this needs to be placed on the vehicle, and it needs to remain clearly visible at any given point. The process is similar to that of registering a car.

On the other hand, if you intend to use an ATV or UTV solely for agricultural purposes, then you may not need to go through the entire registration process, this being the only exception for this category of vehicles. However, you will not be allowed to drive the ATV on any public trail or land, except for those times when you are traveling from one farm to another. 

In case the ATV or UTV is either destroyed, lost, or in any other way disposed of, then you will need to return the certificate of registration, and you only have 15 days to do this. All of the paperwork related to the vehicle will need to be taken care of. For example, the certificate of title needs to be back to the court that issued it.  

The good news for those who are not permanent residents of Ohio is that they can also obtain a temporary operating permit that needs to be displayed if requested by any authority. 

Required equipment

As we’ve already mentioned, if you plan on taking a vehicle (any vehicle, for that matter) out on public roads, then there are certain regulations that need to be complied with for safety reasons. 

In Ohio, an ATV should have at least one headlight with enough power for the driver to be able to see people and objects at a certain distance, the minimum being 100 feet, under normal atmospheric conditions and, of course, during the hours of darkness. The vehicle should also have at least one red tail light, with enough power to be visible from 500 feet. 

The braking system is also crucial, since it’s the main safety element of a moving vehicle, so you need to make sure that it complies with the legal requirements. If you are not sure what these are, you can always ask the local authorities for a guideline explaining everything that you should be aware of before taking your ATV for a ride. 

You will also need to think about any excessive emission of exhaust fumes or smoke that might pose an issue from an environmental point of view, as well as about any loud noise that the vehicle might make. 


You are not allowed to operate any ATV or UTV vehicle on state highways in Ohio, and the reason is a pretty obvious one, namely that of safety. Moreover, drivers are not allowed to operate these vehicles on any limited-access highway, except for emergency situations, as they are designated by the authorities, namely by the Director of Public Safety. 

Private properties also come with limitations, as it’s only normal, namely that an ATV or UTV cannot be operated on these or on any planting area within the state without the owner’s permission, or that of another person that has the right to grant this permission. 

Furthermore, you should also know that, unless stated otherwise through a sign, these vehicles cannot be operated on any land controlled by the state either. However, now that we’ve discussed in detail the main situations in which you might not be allowed to operate your vehicle, you may also want to know where you can safely do so. 

ATV owners are allowed to cross a highway if this can be safely done, and they always need to yield the right of way in these circumstances. It’s good to be aware that while the state’s law might say one thing, local regulations are equally important, and they should not be overlooked. 

In fact, if local authorities have jurisdiction over a highway in Ohio and they grant the permit for ATV to use it, then you may operate the vehicle there. If a state sign indicates that a certain road is an all-purpose vehicle one, then you can safely drive the ATV there.

Age requirements

We know that young people want to start driving something as fast as possible, and this might also be a necessity if you are using your ATV for agricultural activities and other family members want to help. 

With this being said, it’s important to know that when it comes to public streets and highways, one is not allowed to operate such a vehicle, unless he or she has a valid driver’s license. However, on certain public land, individuals under the age of 16 may be allowed to drive an ATV or UTV, if they are accompanied by an adult who has a valid driver’s license. 

Young people under the age of 16 may operate such a vehicle without adult supervision on property owned by their parents or legal guardian. However, no one under the age of 12 is allowed to operate an ATV under any circumstances, whether we’re talking about having adult supervision or not. 

Moreover, it’s also good to bear in mind that no one under the age of 18 is allowed to sell, purchase, or obtain title to an ATV in the state of Ohio. 

Other regulations

We know that this is not something fun to think about, but the truth is that accidents can take place, so you should know what you are supposed to do in case this happens. If you are involved in any such situation that results in property damage in excess of $100 or bodily harm, this needs to be reported to the police within 48 hours after the event. 

A written report must also be filed within 30 days after the accident, that needs to be submitted to either the registrar of motor vehicles or another legal office as indicated by the registrar. In case you cannot file this report yourself but there’s another participant to the event, then this person must write the report and file it. 

A dealer is not allowed to sell an ATV, even if it’s a used one, without a certificate of title. This rule doesn’t apply to non-dealers, but they must include the title as well if there is one. Furthermore, your own safety should always be a top priority, and the law thinks the same. That’s why, you are required to wear both a helmet, as well as goggles when driving an ATV. 

You should make sure that the protective equipment you choose complies with all the safety standards applicable, to prevent anything from going wrong in case of an accident. Of course, you are not allowed to operate an ATV under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.