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New Colorado ATV legislation

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ATV_02Changes Licensing and Use of Off-road Vehicles

By Randy Beaudette

On February 8, 2016, the Colorado House of Representatives heard the second reading and passed a motion to adopt HB16-1030 which changes licensing and use of off-road vehicles.

The bill clarifies that local authorities may require drivers of off-road vehicles to have driver’s license and insurance. The local authority must act by resolution or ordinance, publish a map of all roads available for use by off-highway vehicles, and place appropriate signs giving notice of the regulation. A local authority may also enter into cooperative agreements with federal land management agencies.

The bill adds to the current off-highway vehicle registration program, a new part that authorizes a person to register an off-highway vehicle with the local county clerk, who will register the vehicle with the Department of Revenue. The registration fee is $4.00 and the registration expires when the vehicle changes ownership.

Upon registering an off-highway vehicle, the person will be issued a visible identification plate, which must be affixed to the rear of the vehicle.  The registration program and its associated status generally apply on roads, but not on trails, unless a local authority designates a trail as being a road for the purpose of that part.

The new part adds the following requirements for driving an off-highway vehicle on a road:

  1. A driver must be licensed unless the local authority waives this this requirement, but the driver must be at least 10 years of age and accompanied by a licensed driver.
  2. A driver must obey the rules of the road.
  3. Driving on a limited access highway or road with a speed limit of more 45 MPH is forbidden, but a driver may cross such road or highway as already authorized by statute.
  4. A driver must wear eye protection unless the vehicle has a windshield.
  5. Drivers and passengers under 18 must wear helmets.
  6. The vehicle must have brakes, and if driven at night, have a head lamp and tail lights.
  7. The vehicle speed limit must not exceed 40 MPH.

Violations are class B traffic infractions.

Currently Colorado statutes define an off-highway vehicle as a self-propelled vehicle that is designed to travel on wheels or tracks in contact with the ground, designed primarily for use off public highways which is generally and commonly used to transport persons for recreational purposes, but does not include golf carts or registered motorized vehicles use for on-road or highway transport.

The bill also amends the motor vehicle statutes to define an off-highway vehicle as a vehicle, such as a low powered scooter or bicycle.

Because HB 16-1030 states that local government have the final approval authority, Gilpin County Commissioners will soon be faced with the decision to grant or deny recreational use of ATVs on our county roads. An early poll of the Gilpin County Commissioners indicates that they are not leaning towards adopting this legislation for the county. Stating that safety issues are the biggest concern followed by private and public land abuse and congestion. The Commissioners do not have a problem with limited agricultural use of ATVs on public roads, but the subject of recreational use tends to create a house divided.

Sherriff Bruce Hartman is basically neutral on the subject, stating that it’s not a big deal if it passes or not.  Hartman did express concerns over safety issues.

On February 16, HB 16-1030 was introduced in the State Senate and is working its way through the various committees. A date has not been set on when the Senate will vote.

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