Operation of All Terrain Vehicles
It is important to carefully read and follow the instructions and warnings in the ATV’s owner’s manual and on its labels. ATVs handle differently from other vehicles such as motorcycles and cars. Proper instruction and practice are important. ATVs can be hazardous to operate. For your safety, always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves. Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law – another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway. Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Nevercarry a passengeron a single-riderATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATVspecifically designed for two people. Ride an ATVthat’s right for your age. Supervise riders youngerthan 16; ATVs are not toys. Ride only on designatedtrails and at a safe speed.
On August 18, 2005, North Carolina Governor Michael F. Easley signed the landmark ATV safety bill, HB 189, which was sponsored by Senator William R. Purcell. This new bill took effect on December 1, 2005.
§ 14-159.3. Trespass to land on motorized all-terrain vehicle.
(a) No person shall operate any motorized all-terrain vehicle:
(1) On any private property not owned by the operator, without the written consent of the owner; or
(2) Within the banks of any stream or waterway, but excluding a sound or the Atlantic Ocean, the adjacent lands of which are not owned by the operator, without the consent of the owner or outside the restrictions imposed by the owner.
(a1) A landowner who gives a person written consent to operate an all-terrain vehicle on his or her property owes the person the same duty of care that he or she owes a trespasser.
(b) A “motorized all-terrain vehicle”, as used in this section, is a two or more wheeled vehicle designed for recreational off-road use.
(c) A violation of this section shall be a Class 2 misdemeanor.
§ 20-171.15. Age restrictions.
(a) It is unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of a person less than eight years of age to knowingly permit that person to operate an all-terrain vehicle.
(b) Repealed by Session Laws 2015-286, s. 3.13(a), effective October 22, 2015.
(c) It is unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of a person less than 16 years of age to knowingly permit that person to operate an all-terrain vehicle in violation of the Age Restriction Warning Label affixed by the manufacturer as required by the applicable American National Standards Institute/Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (ANSI/SVIA) design standard.
(d) It is unlawful for any parent or legal guardian of a person less than 16 years of age to knowingly permit that person to operate an all-terrain vehicle unless the person is under the continuous visual supervision of a person 18 years of age or older while operating the all-terrain vehicle.
(e) Subsection (c) of this section does not apply to any parent or legal guardian of a person born on or before August 15, 1997, who permits that person to operate an all-terrain vehicle and who establishes proof that the parent or legal guardian owned the all-terrain vehicle prior to August 15, 2005.
§ 20-171.16. Passengers.
No operator of an all-terrain vehicle shall carry a passenger, except on those vehicles specifically designed by the manufacturer to carry passengers in addition to the operator.
§ 20-171.19. Prohibited acts by owners and operators.
(a) No person shall operate an all-terrain vehicle on a public street or highway or public vehicular area when such operation is otherwise permitted by law, unless the person wears eye protection and a safety helmet meeting United States Department of Transportation standards for motorcycle helmets.
(a1) No person under 18 years of age shall operate an all-terrain vehicle off a public street or highway or public vehicular area unless the person wears eye protection and a safety helmet meeting United States Department of Transportation standards for motorcycle helmets.
(a2) Notwithstanding subsection (a1) of this section, a person who is under 18 years of age and employed by a supplier of retail electric service, while engaged in power line inspection, may operate an all-terrain vehicle while wearing both of the following:
(1) Head protection equipped with a chin strap that conforms to the standards applicable to suppliers of retail electric service adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the NCDept. of Labor.
(2) Eye protection that conforms to the standards applicable to suppliers of retail electric service adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Division of the North Carolina Department of Labor.
(b) No owner shall authorize an all-terrain vehicle to be operated contrary to this Part.
(c) No person shall operate an all-terrain vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, any controlled substance, or a prescription or nonprescription drug that impairs vision or motor coordination.
(d) No person shall operate an all-terrain vehicle in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger or cause injury or damage to any person or property.
(e) Except as otherwise permitted by law, no person shall operate an all-terrain vehicle on any public street, road, or highway except for purposes of crossing that street, road, or highway.
(f) Except as otherwise permitted by law, no person shall operate an all-terrain vehicle at anytime on an interstate or limited-access highway.
(g) No person shall operate an all-terrain vehicle during the hours of darkness, from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise and at anytime when visibility is reduced due to insufficient light or atmospheric conditions, without displaying a lighted headlamp and taillamp, unless the use of lights is prohibited by other applicable laws.
§ 20-171.20. Safety training and certificate.
Effective October 1, 2006, every all-terrain vehicle operator born on or after January 1, 1990, shall possess a safety certificate indicating successful completion of an all-terrain vehicle safety course sponsored or approved by the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute or by another all-terrain vehicle safety course approved by the Commissioner of Insurance. The North Carolina Community College System is authorized to provide all-terrain vehicle safety training, approved by the Commissioner, to persons less than 18 years of age.
§ 20-171.21. Penalties.
Any person violating any of the provisions of this Part shall be responsible for an infraction and may be subject to a penalty of not more than two hundred dollars ($200.00).
§ 20-171.22. Exceptions.
(a) The provisions of this Part do not apply to any owner, operator, lessor, or renter of a farm or ranch, or that person’s employees or immediate family or household members, when operating an all-terrain vehicle while engaged in farming operations.
(a1) Any person may operate an all-terrain vehicle or utility vehicle on a public street or highway while engaged in farming operations.
(b) The provisions of this Part do not apply to any person using an all-terrain vehicle for hunting or trapping purposes if the person is otherwise lawfully engaged in those activities.
(c) The provisions of G.S. 20-171.19(a1) do not apply to any person 16 years of age or older if the person is otherwise lawfully using the all-terrain vehicle on any ocean beach area where such vehicles are allowed by law. As used in this subsection, “ocean beach area” means the area adjacent to the ocean and ocean inlets that is subject to public trust rights. Natural indicators of the landward extent of the ocean beaches include, but are not limited to, the first line of stable, natural vegetation; the toe of the frontal dune; and the storm trash line.