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For those off-road-vehicle enthusiasts who love to tool down the county roads, swiping around authorized cars and trucks and cutting over to new trails (and most likely you’re not a local) — your time is up. You’ve got to stay off the streets and roads.

ATV riders. Photo by Elievan Junior for unsplash.

On May 7, 2021 Governor Jared Polis signed into state law a bill that makes it illegal to drive off-highway vehicles (OHV), regardless of the state or other jurisdiction in which the off-highway vehicle is registered or titled, on public streets, roads, or highways of the state.

For those a little fuzzy on what exactly are “off highway vehicles,” this includes ATVs, four-wheelers, and side-by-sides, and more.

So you say, what if the ATV you tote to Colorado is legal to drive on the road where you live? Good for you, but it doesn’t matter. The bill clears up confusion about the nature of these vehicles and their on-road usage regardless if the OHV is registered and allowed on roadways or highways in another state.

“Ultimately this is about keeping everyone as safe as possible regardless of what they are driving,” said Colonel Matthew Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol.  “We want people to enjoy all that Colorado has to offer, and clearing this law up made that easier and safer to do.”

Here in Chaffee County, summertime sees a deluge of ATVs descend on our off-road trails. On weekends, conga-lines of trailers loaded with them can be seen heading up county roads such as CR 162 to the St.Elmo area.

Purists who would prefer that all our trails were non-motorized may have their own issues with them. Other county residents simply want to be assured that they aren’t suddenly sharing the road with a dangerous and unpredictable vehicle often driven by a minor intent on his or her own summer fun.

While the law is statewide, there are some exceptions in certain areas.  For a list of these exemptions, please visit https://staythetrail.org/ohvs-on-streets-and-roads/ for more information.