New year means off-road vehicles need license plates, online course required for drivers – St George News
ST. GEORGE— Under a law that takes effect at the start of the new year, off-highway vehicle operators will be required to take an online course regarding the state’s OHV policies. Riders will also be required to obtain a license plate for their OHVs under the new law.
According to an online flyer from the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation, the purpose of the course is to make OHV operators aware of state laws and rules governing OHV use, increase rider safety and promote respectful and sustainable on-trail OHV operation while also respecting the communities impacted by it.
As for the course itself, there are two versions – one for those under 18 and those 18 and older.
The online course for OHV riders 18 and older is free, takes 15-30 minutes to complete and is a once-in-a-lifetime requirement. Once completed, a digital certificate can be printed out or saved for proof the course was taken and passed.
Riders under 18 must take the existing, separate online Youth OHV Safety Course that costs $35, or take an approved in-person, hands-on skill course and exam.
Non-resident visitors to Utah will also need to complete the course and purchase a non-resident OHV permit.
OHVs may also not be rented out unless the potential renter has proof they have completed the state course.
The types of off-highway vehicles the course is required for are: all street-legal OHVs, type I all-terrain vehicles, type II utility terrain vehicles or side-by-sides, type 3 OHVs and off-highway motorcycles.
Exempted from the course requirement are snowmobile operators, implements for agriculture, guided tours and sanctioned OHV events.
The course goes live on the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation website on Sunday, Jan. 1, with enforcement beginning Feb. 1.
Background and OHV license plate requirement
The OHV course is the result of 2022’s House Bill 180, which saw near-unanimous support in the Utah House and Senate when it passed during the general legislative earlier this year.
Sponsored by Rep. Carl Albrecht and Sen. Curtis Bramble, the beginnings of the bill came from members of the state’s OHV community and had support from the Utah Farm Bureau Federation and other groups.
The course required under the bill is meant to help OHV operations “respect the land they are driving on,” Bramble said on the Senate floor prior to the bill’s passing that of the legislature in early March.
Overall, the bill’s supporters said its purpose was to help OHV operators better learn how to safely and respectfully use off-road trails on public and private lands. Both Curtis and Bramble said parts of the state have experienced acts of vandalism with the destruction of private property by OHV operators either deliberately or out of ignorance.
This became a heightened concern during the COVID-19 pandemic as people left the cities and descended on rural Utah and issues of trail abuse, riders going off-trail and other personal property violations began to rise. This led to members of the OHV community wanting measures to be taken at the state level to address the issue as worries over the potential closure of existing trails to public use in order to curb the abuse was a potential consequence of the actions of a few “ bad actors.”
“This is a group-generated bill,” Albrecht said in February before the House’s near-unanimous vote approving the bill.
As a part of HB 180’s passing, OHV operators are also required to get a license plate for their vehicles. The license plate will be used as a way to identify and catch individuals who abuse and damage the trails.
OHV license plates can be obtained through the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles for $35.
As for the punishment for such violations, HB 180’s sponsors noted it would be community service –namely making the ones who originally caused the damage to go back and repair it.
“This will help us protect our natural resources and trails,” Albrecht said.
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