State of Iowa
*** NOTICE ***
This page includes a brief summary of provincial/state laws regulating ATV / Off-highway vehicle use current to April 2012. It is not intended as an absolute reference as laws are subject to change without notice and many potential prohibited acts may be covered by other legislation or statutes. It is recommended that you consult with the latest version of state statutes or provincial legislation.
General prohibited acts that may not be covered by specific OHV legislation include trespassing on private property, unlawful use of OHV on public highways, reckless use of off-highway vehicles, operation of off-highway vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, damage to public or private property or damage to natural habitats or protected areas which are all unlawful in every province and state.
Preamble
ATV's and other off-highway vehicles are regulated in the state of Iowa under Title VII of the Iowa Transportation code. These statutes cover use of off-highway vehicles on public and private lands.

For more information on Iowa ATV/OHV regulations, please download a copy of the Iowa OHV Act.





Summary of legislation regulating ATV use
Titling required
All residents of Iowa are required to title their off-highway vehicle.



Registration required
All residents of Iowa are required to register their off-highway vehicle and display valid registration decals on the vehicle.

Non-residents operating on public lands are required to purchase an Iowa non-resident ORV user permit and display valid decals on the vehicle.

Minimum age
No person under the age of 12 may operate a off-highway vehicle on public lands.



Safety training certificate required for underage operators
No person under the age of 18 may operate a off-highway vehicle on public lands unless they hold a Iowa ATV Safety Certificate



Restriction on passengers
No operator may carry a passenger on a off-highway vehicle unless the vehicle is designed to carry a passenger.



Use on public roadways and highways prohibited
Operation of off-highway vehicles on public roadways and highways is prohibited except to cross such a roadway.



Lighting required
Operation of off-highway vehicles during darkness or times of visibility requires adequate headlights and taillights.



Accident reporting
Accidents involving off-highway vehicles that result in injury, death or property damage in excess of $1500.00 are required to be immediately reported to local law enforcement.



Muffler and brakes required
No off-highway vehicle shall be operated on public lands without a working muffler system and brakes. Working brake lights are required at all times.



Other unlawful operations
    A person shall not drive or operate an all-terrain vehicle;
a) At a rate of speed greater than reasonable or proper under all existing circumstances.
b) In a careless, reckless, or negligent manner so as to endanger the person or property of another or to cause injury or damage thereto.
c) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotics or habit-forming drugs.
d) Without a lighted headlight and taillight from sunset to sunrise and at such other times when conditions provide insufficient lighting to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles at a distance of five hundred feet ahead.
e) In any tree nursery or planting in a manner which damages or destroys growing stock.
f) On any public land, ice, or snow, in violation of official signs of the commission prohibiting such operation in the interest of safety for persons, property, or the environment. Any officer appointed by the commission may post an official sign in an emergency for the protection of persons, property, or the environment.
g) In any park, wildlife area, preserve, refuge, game management area, or any portion of a meandered stream, or any portion of the bed of a non meandered stream which has been identified as a navigable stream or river by rule adopted by the department and which is covered by water, except on designated riding areas and designated riding trails. This paragraph does not prohibit the use of ford crossings of public roads or any other ford crossing when used for agricultural purposes; the operation of construction vehicles engaged in lawful construction, repair, or maintenance in a stream bed; or the operation of all-terrain vehicles on ice.
h) Upon an operating railroad right-of-way. An all-terrain vehicle may be driven directly across a railroad right-of-way only at an established crossing and, notwithstanding any other provisions of law, may, if necessary, use the improved portion of the established crossing after yielding to all oncoming traffic. This paragraph does not apply to a law enforcement officer or railroad employee in the lawful discharge of the officer's or employee's duties or to an employee of a utility with authority to enter upon the railroad right-of-way in the lawful performance of the employee's duties.
A person shall not operate or ride an all-terrain vehicle with a firearm in the person's possession unless it is unloaded and enclosed in a carrying case. However, a non ambulatory person may carry an uncased and unloaded firearm while operating or riding an all-terrain vehicle.
A person shall not operate an off-road utility vehicle on a designated riding area or designated riding trail unless the riding area or trail is signed by the department as open to off-road utility vehicle operation.
A person shall not operate a vehicle other than an all-terrain vehicle on a designated riding area or designated riding trail unless the riding area or trail is signed by the department as open to such other use.




Please visit our U.S. land use forums for discussions regarding land use and legal issues.




OHV Registration / Permit
All residents of Iowa are required to register their off-highway vehicles and display valid registration decals on the vehicle. Registration is available from the county recorder where the operator resides.

Non-residents are required to purchase an Iowa ORV user permit for operation on public lands and must display a valid decal on the vehicle. Non-resident permits are available from authorized vendors or from a local county recorders office.

For More Information
This page represents a general summary of applicable state laws which apply to the operation of an off-highway vehicle. Laws are subject to change and laws other than specific off-highway vehicle related laws may be in place which may directly or indirectly apply to the operation of a off-highway vehicle in certain circumstances. Please consult with your state statutes if you have any questions.

For more information on Iowa ATV/OHV regulations, please download a copy of the Iowa OHV Act.