Rules for ATV Riding in North Carolina

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ATVs (all terrain vehicles) are designed for off-road use. They are used for hunting and other recreational activities, and for a variety of farm work including plowing. North Carolina has its own laws regarding ATV use that address issues like appropriate age and what type of ATV a person can operate as well as where a person can operate one. The laws do not apply to anyone using the vehicles for hunting, trapping or farming.

Age Requirements

North Carolina law places age restrictions on ATV operation and on what types of vehicles a person can operate. A child under 8 years old cannot operate any ATV. Children between 8 and 11 can drive an ATV with engine power of 70 cc or less, and children between 12 and 15 can use an ATV with power of 90 cc or less.

Laws of Operation

No person can operate an ATV without a helmet and protective eyewear. The helmet must meet the Department of Transportation standards for motorcycle helmets. The vehicles must remain off major roadways, public streets and highways, with the exception of crossing. As with any other vehicle, it is unlawful to operate an ATV in a reckless manner or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The vehicle must have head and tail lamps turned on from 30 minutes past sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise and any other time affecting normal visibility.

Safety Training

As of October 1, 2006, the state requires any person born on or after January 1, 1990 to take a safety training course run or approved by the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute. The person must carry this certificate anytime he operates an ATV.