State of Washington

*** 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.

ATV's and other off-highway vehicles are regulated in Washington State under Title 46.09 - Off-Road Vehicles Statute of Washington State. These statutes cover use of off-highway vehicles on public and private lands.

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

Summary of legislation regulating ATV use

Titling Required
All residents of Washington State are required to Title their off-highway vehicles.

OHV Registration Required
All residents of Washington State are required to register their off-highway vehicle and display valid OHV decals at all times while riding on public or private lands. Non-residents are required to possess valid registration or OHV permits from their home state or purchase a Washington State temporary OHV permit or obtain a Washington State registration. Temporary OHV permits are valid for 60 days. Valid decals are required to be displayed at all times.

Restrictions on underage operators
Persons under the age of 13 are not permitted to operate an off-highway vehicle on a highway, across a highway or on a roadway designated for off-highway vehicle use.
A person under the age of 13 may operate an off-highway vehicle on a roadway designated for off-highway use if accompanied or directly supervised by an individual 18 years of age or older who holds a valid drivers license.

Operating Violations
        It is unlawful to operate a off-highway vehicle;
    • in a reckless manner that endangers the property of others.
    • between dusk and dawn without a working headlight and taillight, or at times when required for the safety of others unless on property owned by the operator.
    • without adequate braking device
    • without an adequate muffler and spark arrestor
    • on the shoulder or inside bank or slope of any non-highway road or highway
    • on the median of any divided highway
    • in a manner which unreasonably exposes underlying soil or creates an erosion condition or which injures or destroys trees, crops or vegetation unless on lands owned by the operator.
    • on any non-highway road or trail which is reserved for animal or pedestrian travel.
    • on any public lands in violation of the regulations of the agency administering the lands.
    • on a private non highway road in violation of RCW 46.09.450(3).
    • while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a controlled substance.
    • on a street, road, or highway unless authorized under RCW 46.09.360 or 46.61.705.
    • in such a way as to endanger human life.
    • in such a way as to run down or harass any wildlife or animal, nor carry, transport, or convey any loaded weapon in or upon, nor hunt from except by permit issued by the director of fish and wildlife under RCW 77.32.237
Helmet Required
It is unlawful for any person to operate or ride an off-road vehicle on a non highway road without wearing upon his or her head a motorcycle helmet fastened securely while in motion.

Drivers License Required
A valid drivers license is required for operation on, along or across public roadways where ATV use is permitted.

Law Enforcement Jurisdiction
State law gives jurisdiction to all law enforcement agencies having the authority to enforce any of the laws of this state, including, the Washington State Patrol, county sheriffs and their deputies, all municipal law enforcement officers within their respective jurisdictions, fish and wildlife officers, state park rangers, and those employees of the department of natural resources.

Accident Reporting Required
State law requires operators to report any off-highway vehicle related accidents which result in death or property damage of another or damage to another vehicle.

Permission required to ride on private lands
It is unlawful to operate an off-highway vehicle on private lands without prior consent of the landowner.

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

OHV Registration / Permit
State law requires all Washington State residents to register their off-highway vehicles and maintain valid registration decals on the vehicle. Registration is available from the Washington State Department of Motor Vehicles.

Non-residents of Washington State must have a valid out-of-state OHV registration/permit and valid registration decals on the vehicle or purchase a Washington State Temporary OHV Permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The temporary permit is valid for 60 days.
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 Washington ATV/OHV regulations, please download a copy of the Washington OHV Act.