TRENTON — With summer approaching, the Attorney General’s Office today issued new guidance clarifying state law on the improper use of off-road vehicles (ORVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in parks, preserves and other protected natural spaces as well as on public streets, seeking to raise awareness among law enforcement about available laws and regulations for citing violators.
The guidance, covering the rules and regulations governing ATVs and ORVs such as motorized dirt bikes and four wheelers, was published by the Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice amid growing concern about those vehicles being used inappropriately on public lands and streets, causing environmental damage, safety hazards, noise pollution, and in light of a growing number of state and local laws to address the problem. Use of ATVs and ORVs can be legal on private lands and in permitted times and places on public lands, and the guidance explains when and where use of these vehicles is not permitted.
“The misuse of these vehicles on roadways poses a significant threat to the safety of the driving public and pedestrians, while their unlawful use on public lands endangers the natural landscape and natural resources,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “The improper use of these vehicles in open spaces where they don’t belong has damaged important habitats, disturbed wildlife, destroyed plants, and disrupted the public’s quiet enjoyment of natural areas meant for use by all.”
This year, as the summer recreational season nears, the Attorney General’s Office is educating police who may need to take enforcement actions against drivers who misuse those vehicles. Violators could face financial penalties, and their off-road vehicles could be confiscated and potentially auctioned.
Off-road vehicles are generally prohibited on public lands, a broad category including all lands protected and maintained as assets for society. In addition to those under NJDEP jurisdiction and those used for conservation purposes, public lands include “any land so designated by municipal or county ordinance.”
Under New Jersey law, snowmobiles, ATVs and dirt bikes are banned from use on public streets, while counties and municipalities may have similar local ordinances or regulations restricting those vehicles’ use on public roads.
The guidance spells out what authority and what enforcement mechanisms law enforcement agencies at the state, county and local level have at their disposal when it comes to ATVs and ORVs.
To view the guidance document, click here https://www.nj.gov/oag/dcj/agguide/2023-0522_ORV-ATV-Guidance-FINAL.pdf .