If you want to drive an ATV in Idaho, you have to follow the laws of the state. However, what laws regarding ATVs are in place in Idaho?

ATV laws in Idaho include the required purchase of an off-highway vehicle user certificate from Idaho Parks and Recreation, an optional limited-use plate for additional road access, and the necessity of a helmet for those under the age of 18. Riders under the age of 16 must have adult supervision.

Read on for a brief summary of some, but not all, of the important laws regarding the registration, use, and legal access of ATVs in the state of Idaho.

Definition and Registration

Idaho defines an ATV as a recreational vehicle with three or more tires, less than 900 pounds in weight, a wheelbase of no more than 61 inches, handlebar steering, and a seat that is intended to be straddled by the driver.

The registration process for an ATV will differ based on whether or not you are a resident of Idaho. Thus, the requirements for using an ATV in Idaho as a resident and the requirements for using an ATV in Idaho as a non-resident will be discussed separately.

Resident Registration

A resident of Idaho is anyone whose primary residence has been in Idaho for 90 days in a row. One may declare residency before this date, at which point they can then title and register their ATV.

Of course, to prove residency status, you will need an Idaho driver’s license. If you reside in Idaho and do not have one (which may be the case if you are a student or are visiting/living with family), it may be worth considering acquiring one. This requires proof of residency in the form of any of the following:

  • Utility Bills
  • Employment Records
  • Lease Agreement
  • Rental Agreement

It also requires you to pass two tests, one being a vision screening test and the other being a knowledge test based on Idaho’s traffic rules.

Once you have a valid Idaho driver’s license, you can then title and register your ATV in the state of Idaho. A vehicle must be titled in Idaho before it can be registered. To get your ATV titled, you must present ownership documents (such as a manufacturer’s certificate of origin, bill of sale, prior registration, or signed title) to the County Assessor’s Motor Vehicle office in your Idaho county of residence. The only case in which you don’t have to title your ATV is when your ATV was acquired before 1991.

The moment you submit the papers to a county assessor’s motor vehicle office to title your vehicle, you can begin the process of registering it (a process that must be completed within 90 days if you are a new Idaho resident). When you register your ATV, bring your vehicle, with its attached identification number (VIN), along with you. You will also need to bring your vehicle’s current title and registration.

If the vehicle is not titled in your name, ensure that you have a bill of sale from the seller or have the lienholder’s name and address if the title is held by one. You will also need a form of identification (in the form of your Idaho driver’s license) and cash or check to cover the cost of fees and taxes involved with registration.

In Idaho, OHV registration is valid for the period between January 1 and December 31 each year. Residents are required to pay a registration fee of $12.00, which includes a $1.50 fee for Idaho Parks and Recreation. If residents choose to obtain a restricted use plate (RU), which expands the operational area, they must pay a fee of $8.80. The issuance of RU plates, which have a lifespan of 10 years, is processed through the ITD registration system. It’s important to note that vehicles displaying a validated RU plate have more operational freedom than those with only an OHV registration.

Non-resident Registration

Beginning January 1, 2020, individuals who own off-highway vehicles but are not residents of Idaho must acquire a non-resident off-highway vehicle user certificate from Idaho Parks and Recreation before ATVing in Idaho. Prior to 2020, Idaho had reciprocity agreements with neighboring states (meaning current and valid OHV stickers from those states were valid in Idaho), but as those states revoked those privileges, Idaho opted to follow the same course. Non-residents also have the option to obtain a restricted use permit, which grants specific privileges based on the type of registration issued.

If and when non-residents choose to register their off-highway vehicles in Idaho, they are not obligated to obtain a title; however, they must provide evidence (which can include a title or registration document from their home state or purchase paperwork from a deal indicating the sale of the vehicle to the individual registering it) that the vehicle they are registering belongs to them.

Additionally, non-residents must present a driver’s license or other form of identification as proof of residency in another state. Unless non-residents have been operating their vehicles within Idaho for more than 30 days, registration in Idaho is not mandatory. Non-resident registration stickers can be purchased from various Idaho recreation registration vendors, County Assessor’s offices/DMVs, and IDPR Service Centers.

These stickers are offered at the same price that Idaho residents pay for the Idaho Parks and Recreation (IDPR) OHV Registration stickers. They allow access to all of the same areas, no matter whether or not they have an Idaho plate. Of course, since acquiring an Idaho restricted use plate is impossible to do without Idaho ID, non-residents will not be able to drive on city and county roads.

Trail Riding

When operating motorbikes, ATVs, UTVs, and Specialty OHVs off the highway on designated trails, open riding areas, or motocross tracks, you have to follow the following requirements. Not doing so can result in the limit of your access to trails and open riding areas.

According to IC 49-666, riders under the age of 18 must wear a DOT-approved helmet.

A valid IDPR OHV certificate of number sticker is necessary for both residents and non-residents, as per IC 67-7122. Additionally, the ATV must have a muffler and a Forest Service-approved spark arrestor. The ATV’s muffler should produce sound levels at or below 96dB during the half-meter test, following SAE J1287 guidelines, as stated in IC 67-7125.

State and Federal Roads

This information pertains to the various entities involved in OHV use in Idaho, including the Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and privately owned roads that allow OHV use. To determine which roads are open for OHV use, it is recommended to contact the respective landowner or manager.

When driving an ATV on federal or state roads, if you are under 18 years old, you must wear a DOT-approved helmet. If your helmet is DOT-approved, a sticker saying “DOT-approved” will be on the back of it.

For unlicensed operators on U.S. Forest Service roads, an OHV Education Certificate is required according to IC 49-302(11)a. A valid driver’s license is generally necessary, except for individuals under 16 years old who are supervised by a licensed adult operator. The term “supervised” means that the licensed adult must be nearby, either on another OHV or within 300 feet standing on the ground, to provide guidance for the 16 years old or younger operator (or assist as otherwise necessary).

Liability insurance or alternative insurance is also mandatory as per IC 49-1223 or IC 49-1232. Both residents and non-residents operating OHVs must possess a valid IDPR OHV certificate of number sticker, as specified in IC 67-7122.

Additionally, OHVs must be equipped with a muffler and a U.S. Forest Service-approved spark arrestor.

City and County Roads

When it comes to city, county, and highway district roads, the following requirements must be fulfilled for OHV use. It is a good idea to consult the local jurisdiction for details regarding roads open to OHV use.

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation also recommends having certain features accessible on your ATV while riding on the road or highway, including brake lights, horns that can be heard from as far as 200 feet away, mirrors that show the roadway 200 feet behind the ATV, and headlights and taillights (if you happen to be riding at night).

Your ATV must have a valid restricted vehicle license plate according to IC 49-402(4) and a valid IDPR OHV certificate of number sticker attached to the restricted vehicle license plate for both residents and non-residents.

To drive your ATV on city and county roads, you must have a valid driver’s license in accordance with IC 49-301, liability insurance or alternative insurance, a DOT-approved helmet if you are under 18 years old, and a muffler that has a U.S. Forest Service approved spark arrestor. The muffler must produce sound levels at or below 96dB during the half-meter test.

Controlled Access Highways

When using highways, ATVs must adhere to the posted speed limit or travel at a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour, whichever is lower. These regulations are specified under IC49-426(3). ATVs are allowed to cross highways, excluding interstate highways and fully access-controlled state highways, at public road intersections and intersections with ATV trails.

However, before crossing, the vehicle must come to a complete stop and yield to any traffic on the highway. ATVs are allowed to be operated on highways that are not state highways or interstates.

Within municipalities, ATVs can be operated on non-full access-controlled state highways with a posted speed limit of 65 miles per hour or less, and within a one-mile distance from the municipal boundary. Outside of municipalities, ATVs can operate on non-full access-controlled state highways with a posted speed limit of 65 miles per hour or less for a maximum continuous distance of 5 miles. You can only drive ATVs outside of municipalities of you are using them to go between ATV trails, access necessary services, or obtain access to an ATV trail. You can also use ATVs to leave ATV trails.

Other Regulations

The following are some important laws to understand before operating an ATV in Idaho.

IDAHO CODE 67-7113

This law states that the operator of a snowmobile or OHV such as an ATV will be held accountable and responsible for any damage caused to the property, such as trees, shrubs, or other elements while traveling over someone else’s land.


OHVs that are used solely for agricultural purposes on private land or exclusively for snow removal, as stated in section 49-426(2), are exempt from requiring an OHV recreational permit sticker or a restricted vehicle license plate. However, if the OHV is used for any purposes other than agriculture or snow plowing on private land, it must be appropriately permitted or licensed for that specific purpose.

IDAHO CODE 67-7122

After purchasing a recreational permit sticker, the sticker must be clearly and visibly displayed on your ATV.

IDAHO CODE 67-7123

According to this law, if someone purchases an OHV that already has a restricted vehicle license plate, they must apply for a transfer of the license plate through the motor vehicle department within 15 days of the purchase.

IDAHO CODE 67-7111

According to this law, if the operator of a snowmobile or OHV is involved in an accident that results in injuries, death, or property damage exceeding $200 (excluding damage to their own vehicle), they, or someone acting on their behalf, or the owner of the snowmobile/OHV if the operator is unknown, must promptly inform the appropriate law enforcement agency about the incident.

Additionally, within 5 days, they must submit a report to the department using the forms provided by the department. This report must include details about the circumstances of the accident.

Overall, the laws regarding driving ATVs in Idaho are relatively straightforward. However, if you don’t follow them, you may face serious consequences, even if you don’t live in Idaho. If you aren’t sure where you can drive your ATV in Idaho, contact a police officer or DMV employee and ask them as many questions as necessary.

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