While looking forward to operating an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), we encourage you to read and learn about the Georgia ATV laws that explain the requirements. By definition, ATVs are self-propelled locomotives with at least two wheels manufactured for sale and meant for use mainly in off-road competitions and off-highways. Most ATVs weigh up to 1,000 pounds with a width of up to 70 inches.
However, ATVs do not include vehicles meant for off-highway use and designed for travel on ice or snow and supported by at least one cleat or belt that uses endless belt tread. Cars that include snowmobiles are subject to different regulations and laws.
What Is Georgia ATV Law?
In Georgia, an ATV is a motorized all-purpose vehicle that is meant for off-road use and equipped with the following features:
- Straddle-designed seats.
- A total of four low-pressure tires.
- Handlebars for steering.
There are different classes of ATVs. The 2018 Georgia ATV laws separate all-terrain vehicles into three categories:
- Class I ATV: It is an all-terrain vehicle with a maximum of 50 inches width, weighs less than 1,200 pounds, and moves on at least three inflatable tires.
- Class II ATV: It is an all-terrain vehicle with a maximum of 65 inches in width, weighs no more than 2,000 pounds, and moves on at least four non-highway inflatable tires.
- Class III ATV: It is an all-terrain vehicle with all features similar to Class II but weighing much more. The ATVs in this class are the heaviest because they can weigh up to 8,000 pounds and are mainly operated off the highway.
Do You Have to Register Your ATV in Georgia?
Georgia does not require you to register vehicles with the state if they are meant for driving outside the highway. Therefore, all ATVs operating on private property do not require registration. However, you need a private property owner's express permission to drive the vehicle on their property.
The laws governing the operation of ATVs in public areas differ. The 2018 Georgia ATV laws define such properties as any physical properties controlled or owned by governmental entities, either through leases, ownerships, or public rights.
Georgia requires all vehicle owners to register their vehicles with the state as long as they are meant for public roads. Since the state does not allow ATV registration, it is illegal to operate them on public roads.
ATV Equipment Requirements in Georgia
According to Georgia laws on transport regulations, ATVs within the state should have the following equipment:
- Adequate brakes in an operating brake system.
- A muffler that can preclude the emission of excess smoke and capable of reducing the vehicle's engine noise.
- A well-functioning spark arrestor.
- Operational tail lights and headlights when driving in darkness.
Where You Can Ride an ATV in Georgia
Most ATVs have less than four wheels, and their design is suited for off-highway use, although they do not meet most federal safety regulations and guidelines.
You need permission from property owners to ride your all-terrain vehicle on their property. In cities, towns, public lands, state agencies, and counties, you may be allowed to ride an ATV provided that these agencies have posted a sign letting you do so. Without them, you need to check local regulations. Generally, ATVs must remain in designated areas, trails, or roads that the government marks explicitly for off-road vehicle use.
Georgia has expressly set aside areas where they permit the driving of off-road vehicles. However, the law requires you to be in an adult's company to drive an ATV in these areas if you are a minor.
It is illegal to operate an all-terrain vehicle on public roads in Georgia. The law also prohibits you from running an off-road vehicle within torrential streams. However, the law allows you to directly cross a stream. Georgia created regulations to limit ATV use on public roads and hence protect citizens from unnecessary accidents. Failure to follow these laws attracts penalties and potential jail terms, depending on the offense's degree.
Can a Minor Operate an ATV in Georgia?
The law allows you to operate a vehicle on any state land, highway, or street only if you have a valid driver's license. However, Georgia is silent on the minimum age at which a person can operate an all-terrain vehicle on a state or private property.
Therefore, if an all-terrain vehicle has to be operated on a forest road or public road, the driver must adhere to all motor vehicle laws, including have a driver's license and be at least 16 years.
Liability for ATV Accidents in Georgia
It is vital to understand that the entity or individual culpable for your ATV accident may not be apparent immediately after the accident. In most situations, several parties share fault when a vehicle accident occurs.
We suggest reaching out to an injury lawyer to accurately identify all liable parties, protect your rights, and get the compensation you deserve if you or a loved one is in such a predicament.
Some of the parties that may be responsible for your injuries include the ATV's:
- Driver, if you are a pedestrian or a passenger.
- Retailer or distributor.
- Helmet manufacturer or retailer.
- Rental firm.
The components and accessories of the ATV can also be defective. As such, we recommend servicing your vehicle at registered dealers and professional retailers to ensure all parts' proper functioning.
Driving an ATV While Under the Influence in Georgia
It is unlawful to operate any vehicle while intoxicated. Therefore, Georgia laws cover both cars and other vehicles, including ATVs.
An ATV can be a dangerous vessel when an unsafe driver is behind the wheel. The vehicle can move at high speeds compared to cars like sedans, sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), and trucks. It often causes enormous damage to property and other innocent persons when it is involved in an accident.
An ATV driver should exercise caution while operating the vehicle to protect public and private property, vegetation, land, and wildlife in the area.
If you are looking to buy an all-terrain vehicle or already own one in Georgia, first accustom yourself to the regulations and laws that govern its use and registration. If you fail to comply with the state laws, it can lead to heavy fines and penalties, including an impound on your vehicle, monetary penalties, and even jail time.