State offers guidance on use of ORVs, ATVs

NEW JERSEY. The guidance explains when and where use of off-road vehicles (ORVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is not permitted.

| 24 May 2023 | 04:34

With summer approaching, the state Attorney General’s Office on May 22 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.

The guidance, covering 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.

Possible problems raised by those vehicles include environmental damage, safety hazards and noise pollution.

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 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.”

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 generally are prohibited on public lands, which includes all lands protected and maintained as assets for society. In addition to those under the state Department of Environmental Protection’s 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, and counties and municipalities may have similar local ordinances or regulations.

The guidance spells out what authority and what enforcement mechanisms law enforcement agencies at the state, county and local level may use with ATVs and ORVs.