Summary of OHV Laws & Rules

New Mexico has new requirements for off-highway motor vehicles (OHVs) designed to protect the safety of all OHV users and ensure responsible and sensitive OHV use. The law requires all OHV users to register or acquire a permit for their OHV if it is used on public land.

OHV Off-Highway Vehicle Law Enforcement Coordinator for New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

This document is not to be used as a substitution for New Mexico Statutes 66-3-1001 to 66-3-1020 or Title 18 of the New Mexico Administrative Code. It is intended to provide basic information regarding the requirements for OHVs and users. It is your responsibility to know the law.

Prohibited Uses

It is illegal for any person to use an OHV to:
» Destroy signs, windmills or other property.
» Operate any OHV in a way that damages environment, plants, animals or creates excessive noise.
» Harass, pursue or hunt wildlife or domestic animals.
» Operate any OHV where prohibited or on private land without permission.
» Operate an OHV on paved roads or highways except as allowed by local authority or the state transportation commission.
» Negatively affect livestock and or agricultural practices.
» No one, regardless of age, may drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

OHV Designation

Vehicles that are considered to be OHVs & must be registered:

  • All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)
  • Dirt bikes
  • Off-road vehicles
    (ORVs, UTVs or Mule type vehicles)
  • Snowmobiles

Vehicles not required to be registered for off-highway motor vehicle use:

  • Motorcycles registered for use on public streets
  • Vehicles used strictly for agricultural use
  • Vehicles used strictly on private land

Safety Requirements

Riders under 6:

  • May not operate an ATV on public land.

Riders under 18 MUST:

  • Wear an approved, securely fastened helmet.
  • Wear approved, protective eye wear.
  • Never carry a passenger, even on OHVs designed for two persons.
  • Be visually supervised when operating an OHV, unless:
    Age 13 and above with a valid motorcycle license.
    Age 15 and above with a valid driver’s license.
  • Complete a certified OHV course and obtain a safety permit.

Riding Responsibly on Designated Trails

Know before you go. Contact the local U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or other appropriate agency office to find out about trails, roads or areas open to OHV use. Click here to learn more: Respect the Land.

It is your responsibility to obtain permission to travel across private lands.

Local Ordinances & Resolutions for Paved Roads

New! Local ordinances and resolutions allowing certain OHV use on specific paved roads:

With the passing of NM Senate Bill 270 during the 2016 state legislative session, local authorities and the state transportation commission have the authority to pass resolutions or ordinances to designate certain paved roads as open to specific ATV or ROV travel within their respective communities. It is illegal to operate an ATV or ROV on a paved road unless a local authority or the state transportation commission has passed an ordinance allowing such use on specific roads in specific communities. The Department is maintaining a list of links to local ordinances as we become aware of them for your convenience (see below). If you intend to operate an ATV or ROV on a paved road, it is your responsibility to inquire with the local authority to which you wish to ride to see if such use is allowed in that specific area.

Please remember state law requires that:

  • Only ATVs and ROVs (side-by-sides, SxS, UTVs, etc.) can be operated on specific paved roads within specific communities only as authorized by passage of a local ordinance allowing such use.
  • Any ATV or ROV operator driving on a paved road where a local ordinance allows such use, shall wear helmets, eye protection, have a drivers’ licenses, proof of OHV safety training, and proof of financial responsibility liability insurance.
  • ATV or ROV must be registered, have working brakes, mufflers, mirrors, a functioning headlight and a functioning rear light.

Please refer to the state OHV laws and rules for complete requirements. Local authorities can enact and enforce further restrictions as long as they are not in conflict with state law. It is the responsibility of any OHV operator to know the state and local laws and rules before riding.


| Be Safe | Stay on trails | Tread Lightly | Enjoy |