Summary of OHV Laws & Rules
New Mexico has 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 their OHVs if used on public land. New Mexico residents must purchase OHV registration decals from the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). Non-residents can purchase OHV registration decals from the Department of Game and Fish Online Sales website (https://onlinesales.wildlife.state.nm.us/). The new Paved Road decals allowing operation of ATVs and ROVs on authorized roads are obtained the same way, via MVD for residents and via the NMDGF website for non-residents.
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.
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.
- All-terrain vehicles (ATVs)
- Dirt bikes
- Off-road vehicles
(ORVs, UTVs or Mule type vehicles)
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
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 or State Transportation Commission resolution allowing such use.
- Any adult ATV or ROV operator driving on a paved road where a local ordinance allows such use shall wear eye protection, and have a drivers’ license and proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance). All operators and passengers younger than 18 years of age must also wear helmets and eye protection, and have a safety permit as proof of safety training when operating any OHV.
- Any ATV or ROV operated on a paved street or highway must have OHV registration AND special OHV paved road use plate or decal (available from the Motor Vehicle Division for $7), have working brakes, mufflers, mirrors, a functioning headlight and a functioning tail 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.
- NM state law 66-3-1011. Operation on streets or highways; prohibited areas.
- Alamogordo: pending
Village of Chama OHV Ordinance
- Cibola County
Cloudcroft Village Code Regulating Off-Highway Motor Vehicles
- Elephant Butte
Resolution 2017-17 All-Terrain Vehicles
Otero County Ordinance 16-06
Village of Questa Ordinance 2016-147
- Red River
Town of Red River: ROV Use Inside Town Limits
Ordinance 2017-03 Chapter 82 Traffic and Vehicles Addition Of Article IV Off-highway Motor Vehicles
- San Juan County
San Juan County Resolution 15-16-50
- And more to come as we learn about them…
| Be Safe | Stay on trails | Tread Lightly | Enjoy |