Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual

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Section 16 of 38

Chapter 15: Off-Highway Vehicles

15.00Chapter 15 Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV)

15.000 Introduction

Off-highway vehicles (OHV) are motor vehicles not otherwise registered under this code, operated exclusively off the highways on lands that are open and accessible to the public. OHV display an identification plate or device issued by the DMV (Vehicle Code (VC) §38010).

The term “highway” does not include fire trails, logging roads, or service roads regardless of surface composition, or other roughly graded trails and roads upon which vehicular travel by the public is permitted (VC §38001).

All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) (VC §111)—A motor vehicle which is designed for off-highway operation by an operator with no passengers. An ATV has a single seat for the operator and handlebars for steering control. It is 50 inches or less in width with an unladen weight of 900 pounds or less, and is suspended on three or more low-pressure tires.

ATVs are manufactured for off-highway use, do not meet federal standards for on-highway use, and cannot be converted.

Recreational Off-highway Vehicles (ROVs) VC §500—An ROV has a:

  • Steering wheel for steering control, and nonstraddle seating provided by the manufacturer for the operator and all passengers.
  • Maximum speed capability of greater than 30 miles per hour, an engine displacement equal to or less than 1000cc, and has a complying emissions system.

Do not register non-straddle single seat ROVs as ATVs: register as ROVs (for example, register a Polaris ACE as an ROV).

Do not register non-straddle single seat ROVs as ATVs: register as ROVs (for example, register a Polaris ACE as an ROV).

OHV (CVC §38012)—Includes, but is not limited to:

  • A motorcycle or motor-driven cycle, except for a motorcycle eligible for a special transportation identification permit. See Competition (Racing) Motorcycles section in this chapter.
  • A snowmobile or other vehicle designed to travel over snow or ice. A snowmobile is a motor vehicle designed to travel over ice or snow in whole or in part on skis, belts, or cleats (VC §557).
  • A motor vehicle commonly referred to as a sand buggy, dune buggy, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), or jeep.

An OHV does not have to be equipped with a spark arrester for registration. OHV identification of an otherwise-qualified vehicle cannot be denied due to the absence of a spark arrester.

Utility-Terrain Vehicle (UTV) (VC §531) —A motor vehicle:

  • Designed for off-highway operation.
  • Suspended on four tires.
  • Has a steering wheel for steering control.
  • Has one seat to accommodate a driver and one passenger sitting side by side.