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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,



With any luck, we've got a few officers of the law out here that can set me straight on this:



A lot of you are probably aware that the Forest Service is going through a travel management process of identifying the back country roads in their forests and indicating the type of vehicles that can operate on specific roads.



The general classifications are:



1. Roads requiring street legal vehicles

2. Roads limited to OHV (off highway vehicle) use only

3. Roads that are Combined-Use for street legal AND OHV;s

4. Roads that are limited to vehicles less that 50 inches wide (quads and moto)

5. Roads that are limited to motorcycles only.



As far as I can make out, our TW's, being street legal, appear to be able to travel on all 5 classes of roads with no restrictions (unless the road is marked "closed"). That's great news, right?



So my specific question is this: If someone is riding "off-road" on a forest service road, on a bike that is legally registered and allowed to be there, can the rider be cited for driving without a license if they don't have a motorcycle license?



This hasn't happened to me because I've been keeping my 15 year old on the OHV and Combined-Use trails for now, but it would open up hundreds of miles of local riding opportunity for us if he could ride on ALL these forest service roads.



It looks like a gray area to me, so any input on this is appreciated.



Thanks,



Rory
 

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So my specific question is this: If someone is riding "off-road" on a forest service road, on a bike that is legally registered and allowed to be there, can the rider be cited for driving without a license if they don't have a motorcycle license?



This hasn't happened to me because I've been keeping my 15 year old on the OHV and Combined-Use trails for now, but it would open up hundreds of miles of local riding opportunity for us if he could ride on ALL these forest service roads.



It looks like a gray area to me, so any input on this is appreciated.



Thanks,



Rory




Yes, they can be cited. At least here in Washington State all the laws that must be followed on the paved highway, must be followed on the Forest Service roads. So, your 15 year old should only be riding on the OHV and Combine-Use trails for now.
 

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I believe that all states that designate a road as requiring a street legal bike will also require the rider to have a driver license with a motorcycle endorsement. On roads not requiring a street legal bike, riding a legal bike without a license is a gray area; some states like Idaho wouldn't care, others might. Best to ask specifically about the area you are going to ride in. Here we have thousands of miles of Forest Service roads that are ridden every day by unlicensed riders on off road bikes (i.e. they are not designated as requiring street legality) but in California the rules are completely different.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm in California, and I've been looking through the codes. Probably just wishful thinking, but I don't see anything limiting the age of the rider in an off-highway situation. They go out of their way to define what a "highway" is and is not, and the same for registration (red/green stickers, tagged & unregistered), but they never mention age of the rider beyond the legal requirements for driving on a "highway" in section 4000, which I totally understand and agree with.



None of the off-highway codes (section 38000) mention age at all beyond a parent taking responsibility. Most of the codes are about the registration status of the vehicle, and where specific vehicles may ride. That's why we see 5 year old kids at the state run OHV parks.



Admittedly, it's a fine point of the law; one that would have to be debated in front of a judge, and not the police, but I was just curious about other people's opinion, or better yet, experience. Surely someone has dug into this as well. This seems to be excellent forum, with some interesting people running around, so you never know what kind of brain power you're going to run into. The law looks at things one way and whatever law enforcement people you are dealing with at the time will have their own prevailing opinion on the law.



I'm just trying to avoid a misunderstanding, before I go and do something stupid. My next move is going to be seeking out a park ranger to run some questions by them. I'll let you know.






Regards,



Not A Lawyer
 

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I'm betting that any road that qualifies as a road (not a trail for ohv only) will require a proper license, plating, safety gear, and insurance. I'm sure the world looks the other way when ohv's use what in essence are low use public roads where they should ideally have road equipment and registration, but . . . . I'd say allowing an unlicensed operator on a hwy plated vehicle on a road is a nono. Now in Uncle Fred's pasture - anything goes. IMHO

P.S. I'm sympathetic to the dilemma, its great for youth to get riding experience and share time with parents - hey at 15 he/she should be up for a permit fairly soon? I'd say lots of thinks would be tolerated if a parent was present and responsible ridership was exhibited. Good luck and foster safe riding whenever possible. Tom
 

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In Washington State, Forest Service rules of the road are the same as the State highways. Department of Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources, and Bureau of Land Management laws/rules differ than those of the Forest Service. The Forest Service is the most stringent and the others are very lax.



Is there another place where you can ride (different land owner)? I don't know anything of California, so I apologize if my suggestion is unobtainable.
 

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No place I've ever lived has denied street-legal vehicles access to land on which offroad vehicles were permitted. Whether or not the operator had a license has never been a concern anywhere ORVs are permitted no matter if the vehicle is licensed for highway use or not. On the other hand, every road on which a highway-licensed vehicle is required for operation also requires the operator be licensed. The exception would be Arkansas, which allows ORVs not licensed for highway use on certain public roads, and I haven't a clue whether or not operators of those ORVs are required to be licensed.
 

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Here in Colorado I believe licensed vehicles are legal on forest roads without OHV, but there is some confusion about that.



There are OHV parks, paid for by OHV fees that require OHV stickers no matter if you have a license or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, I'm going to play it safe till I get a straight answer on this, but the law is cloudy at least in California, because it looks like they clearly defined what constitutes a "highway." Here's the codes:



Street or Highway-Highway Exclusion (definition)



592. "Highway", for the purposes of Division 3 (commencing with Section 4000), Division 12 (commencing with Section 24000), Division 13 (commencing with Section 29000), Division 14.8 (commencing with Section 34500), and Division 15 (commencing with Section 35000), does not include a way or place under the jurisdiction of a federal governmental agency, which lies on national forest or private lands, is open to public use, and for which the cost of maintenance of such way or place is borne or contributed to directly by any users thereof.





Applicability of Provisions



38001:



Except as otherwise provided, this division applies to off-highway motor vehicles, as defined in Section 38006, on lands, other than a highway, that are open and accessible to the public, including any land acquired, developed, operated, or maintained, in whole or in part, with money from the Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund, except private lands under the immediate control of the owner or his or her agent where permission is required and has been granted to operate a motor vehicle. For purposes of this division, the term "highway" does not include fire trails, logging roads, service roads regardless of surface composition, or other roughly graded trails and roads upon which vehicular travel by the public is permitted.



(
Privately owned and maintained parking facilities that are generally open to the public are exempt from this division, unless the facilities are specifically declared subject to this division by the procedure specified in Section 21107.8.







Well, that's the source of my confusion... I was kind of laughing when I read the thread on "reliving our past" that's been active recently. The author of that post, like me, remembers being able to hit a dirt road as a kids, and we were home free. Different times.



Peace everyone,



Rory
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm betting that any road that qualifies as a road (not a trail for ohv only) will require a proper license, plating, safety gear, and insurance. I'm sure the world looks the other way when ohv's use what in essence are low use public roads where they should ideally have road equipment and registration, but . . . . I'd say allowing an unlicensed operator on a hwy plated vehicle on a road is a nono. Now in Uncle Fred's pasture - anything goes. IMHO

P.S. I'm sympathetic to the dilemma, its great for youth to get riding experience and share time with parents - hey at 15 he/she should be up for a permit fairly soon? I'd say lots of thinks would be tolerated if a parent was present and responsible ridership was exhibited. Good luck and foster safe riding whenever possible. Tom






Yes, just a few more months and it's a non-issue in our house. But inquiring minds want to know, right.
 

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MrDNA I see you're another So.Cal. Local (I'm in Fullerton) and assume you're asking about the trails up in the Cleveland National Forest (Saddleback area). I do a lot of off-roading in that area and was in a similar situation a couple of years ago; my stepdaughter (20 at the time with a valid CA driver's license but no MC license) wanted to ride dual-sports with me but didn't want to get a MC license (it's a long story). I voted to risk it as the MC she was riding was fully street-legal, registered and insured (it's a mid-80's Honda dual-sport) we ride responsibly and are respectful. Thankfully I've never been stopped up there on a bike (I do have a MC license and ride a street-legal TW) though I have been questioned a couple of times when I've been up in that area in my VW dunebuggy (also street legal, at least mostly) both times the Rangers have been fair and once they realized it was road-legal vehicle they waved me on my way. It seems like as long as you're respectful to them and don't cause any problems (and have an Adventure Pass) they will let you on your way without checking ID or registrations, seems they have bigger fish to fry up there.



As far as OHV areas go, I also have a couple of those, as far as I know a person must be over 16 to ride anything over 200cc's (I just went out to the garage and checked, all three of my quads have decals on them stating this). Again though, I've let people younger than 16 ride many of my larger than 200cc OHV's and have had no problems with Rangers, though YMMV!



Good luck and let me know if you'd like to meet-up for a local ride sometime!



Kevin
 
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