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Mississippi’s laws on ATV use are clear

A couple major points are in Mississippi’s laws for all-terrain vehicles.

The biggest are that you cannot use them on public roadways and children must wear a helmet.

Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Ray Hall said ATVs are illegal on the highways because they do not meet the safety standards of vehicles.

“ATVs can be very dangerous because of their speed, lack of light requirements,” he said.

Hall also said since there are not many detailed laws regarding how to ride a four-wheeler, he recommends, “reading the manufacturer’s recommendations on age to operate, etc.”

Oxford Police Maj. Jeff McCutchen said while his department does not receive many calls regarding four-wheelers, he still emphasizes using safety measures.

“The research speaks for itself in regards to trauma and trauma-related injuries to those who do not wear a helmet,” he said. “You can have a lot of fun on those vehicles but it’s even more fun when you return safely.”

Below is the unedited Mississippi state code regarding four-wheelers:

Miss. Code Ann. § 63-31-3  (2015) Requirements to operate off-road vehicle on public property; off-road vehicle safety course.
(1) No off-road vehicle shall be operated upon any public property by any person unless:
(a) (i) The person possesses a valid driver’s license; or
(ii) The person possesses a certificate as provided under subsections (3) and (4) of this section.
(b) No person may operate any off-road vehicle upon any public property in this state unless each person under sixteen (16) years of age who is operating or riding on the off-road vehicle is wearing a crash helmet that complies with minimum guidelines established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pursuant to the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218 (49 CFR 571.218) for helmets designed for use by motorcyclists.

(2) A violation of subsection (1) of this section is punishable by a fine of not less than Twenty-five Dollars ($ 25.00) nor more than Fifty Dollars ($ 50.00).

(3) Off-road vehicle safety courses shall be held by the Cooperative Extension Service using 4-H safety course materials and curricula, and shall be taught by instructors possessing qualifications approved by the Department of Public Safety. The Cooperative Extension Service shall issue a certificate to each person who satisfactorily completes the off-road vehicle safety course.

(4) Off-road vehicle safety courses may be held by any organization approved by the Department of Public Safety. Such organization shall issue a certificate to each person who satisfactorily completes the off-road vehicle safety course.

(5) For the purposes of this section:
(a) “Off-road vehicle” means any all-terrain vehicle, dirt bike or recreational off-highway vehicle.
(b) “All-terrain vehicle” or “ATV” means any motorized vehicle manufactured and designed exclusively for off-road use that is fifty (50) inches or less in width; has an unladen dry weight of one thousand (1,000) pounds or less; and travels on three (3), four (4) or more nonhighway tires.
(c) “Dirt bike” means a motor-powered vehicle possessing two (2) or more tires, designed to travel over any terrain and capable of travelling off of paved roads, whether or not the vehicle may be operated legally on a public street.
(d) “Recreational off-highway vehicle” means any motorized vehicle manufactured and designed exclusively for off-road use that is sixty-five (65) inches or less in width; has an unladen dry weight of two thousand (2,000) pounds or less; and travels on four (4) or more nonhighway tires.

(6) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize operation of an off-road vehicle on a public road or highway of this state.