Mass ATV and dirt bike operators are subject to new regulations


With warmer weather on the way the Environmental Police issued a press release reminding operators of all terrain vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes of new age restrictions, safety education and registration requirements now in effect.

A new law Governor Patrick signed in August 2010 increased safety requirements for minor operators and stiffened penalties for illegal off-highway vehicle operation.

Under Massachusetts law, no person under 10 years old may operate any off-highway vehicle under any circumstances, according to a press release. No person between 10 and 14 years old may operate an all-terrain vehicle or recreation utility vehicle except while preparing for or participating in a sanctioned race, rally or organized event. No person age 14 to 16 years old may operate an all-terrain or recreation utility vehicle with an engine capacity greater than 90 cubic centimeters, and no one between 14 or 16 years old may operate an all-terrain or recreation utility vehicle without direct supervision by an adult.

Supervising adults must be at least 18 years old and must be sufficiently close to the operator at all times to maintain both visual contact and verbal communications with the operator. No one under the age of 16 and a half may operate a recreation vehicle across a public way unless directly supervised by an adult.

As of February 1, 2011, operators under the age of 18 are required to take an approved safety course. Parents of operators under the age of 16 will be required to attend one mandatory safety course session.

In addition, the new law requires all operators of off-highway vehicles operated on public and private property to register their vehicles with MEP. Previously, operators who rode exclusively on private property were not required to register their vehicles.

The new law also includes increased penalties for illegal operation of off-highway vehicles.