Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Transportation Committee

HB 1632

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Regulating the use of off-road vehicles in certain areas.

Sponsors: Representatives Shea, Blake, Kristiansen, Sells, Warnick, Upthegrove, Wilcox, Scott, Moscoso, Fagan and Condotta.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Establishes a definition for "wheeled all-terrain vehicle" along with operator, equipment, and registration requirements and related exemptions.

  • Establishes locations in which the wheeled all-terrain vehicle may be operated.

  • Establishes documentation for required equipment installations for a wheeled all-terrain vehicle.

  • Creates the Multiuse Roadway Safety Account.

  • Clarifies that local land management requirements must be followed and a process for the operator to receive a citation with or without law enforcement presence.

  • Clarifies when off-road vehicle (ORV) registrations and decals are not required for off-road vehicles.

  • Increases the age of a person from 13 to 16 years of age that may operate an off-road vehicle on or across a highway or non-highway road.

  • Adds definitions for "primitive road" to the definitions of a non-highway road, direct supervision, and emergency management.

Hearing Date: 2/11/13

Staff: Jerry Long (786-7306).


Currently any city, county, or other political subdivision of the State of Washington, or any state agency, may regulate the operation of non-highway vehicles on public lands, waters, and other properties under its jurisdiction; and on streets, roads, or highways within its boundaries by adopting regulations or ordinances, provided such regulations are not less stringent than the provisions of state laws.

A legislative body of a city with a population of less than 3,000 in population, may by ordinance, designate a street or highway within its boundaries to be suitable for use by off-road vehicles. The legislative body of a county may, by ordinance, designate a road or highway within its boundaries to be suitable for use by off-road vehicles if the road or highway is a direct connection between a city with a population of less than 3,000 and an off-road vehicle recreation facility.

Summary of Bill:

The bill establishes a definition for an "wheeled all-terrain vehicle" which is:

Wheeled all-terrain vehicles operated in the state must display a metal tag on the rear of the vehicle. The initial metal tag must be issued with an original off-road vehicle registration. The metal tag must be replaced every seven years at a cost of $2 to be deposited into the Non-highway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities Program Account. The Department of Licensing (DOL) must design the metal tag and be the same size as a motorcycle license plate and have "Restricted Vehicle" at the top. Space at the bottom left of the tag will be the space for the off-road tab and on the right for an on-road tab. The operator will have a current off-road vehicle registration tab and, in addition, may have an on-road vehicle tab and pay the annual vehicle license fee for the off-road or both off-road and on-road. The initial and renewal on-road registration fee is $12. A wheeled all-terrain vehicle may not be registered for commercial use. Local authorities may not establish registration requirements for these vehicles.

A person that violates the following areas of operation will commit a traffic infraction. A person may operate a wheeled all-terrain vehicle:

A city must post those roads not suitable for wheeled all-terrain vehicle use publically on the main page of the city's website.

A person may not operate a wheeled all-terrain vehicle:

The operator of a wheeled all terrain vehicle upon a public roadway of the state must have a valid Washington driver's license or a license issued by the state of the person's residence. The operator must follow the rights and duties of a motorcycle, except that the vehicles may not be operated side-by-side in a single lane.

A wheeled all-terrain vehicle must have the following equipment: headlights, one tail lamp for a wheeled all-terrain vehicle and two for a utility-type vehicle; a stop light; reflectors; turn signals during darkness; one handlebar mirror or two if an utility-type vehicle; a windshield unless the operator has eye protection; a horn or warning device; brakes; a spark arrester and muffler; and seatbelts if a utility-type vehicle.

A person operating a wheeled all-terrain vehicle, not including emergency services or vehicles used in the production of agriculture and timber on a public roadway, must provide a declaration that includes:

The DOL must track wheeled all-terrain vehicles in a separate registration category for reporting purposes.

The bill creates the Multiuse Roadway Safety Account (Account). Receipts from the new on-road use registration fee of $12 must deposited into the Account and only be spent after appropriation. The Washington State Department of Transportation will administer a grant program for:

Grants must be prioritized first by marking highway crossings warning motorists that wheeled all-terrain vehicles may be crossing when a recreation parking lot is on the other side of a roadway from the actual recreation facility. Signs must conform to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The Account will retain investment earnings.

A person who operates a wheeled all-terrain vehicle upon public lands must follow local land management requirements. If the person is found in violation, it is a traffic infraction with a penalty of up to $500 by any law enforcement officer. If the infraction was not committed in the officer's presence, as long as there is reasonable evidence after an investigation of the violation and probable cause, then the officer must prepare a ticket of infraction and serve it upon the operator of the wheeled all-terrain vehicle. At a minimum, the evidence must include the time, location, and metal tag number or vehicle description.

The off-road vehicle (ORV) registrations and decals are not required for off-road vehicles:

The bill adds to existing authorizations that it is lawful to operate an ORV on any trail, non-highway road, or highway while being used under the authority or direction of an agency that engages in emergency management, search and rescue, or law enforcement official duties.

The bill increases the age of a person from 13 to 16 years of age that may operate an off-road vehicle on or across a highway or non-highway road. This does not apply when the person is under 16 and: the vehicle is being used for emergency management or rendering emergency care or assistance with respect to an incident involving off-road vehicles. A person may also operate an off-road vehicle across a highway, if at that crossing, signs indicate that wheeled all-terrain vehicles may be crossing, or on a non-highway road or trail designated for off-road vehicles use under the direct supervision of a person that is at least 18 years old with a valid driver's license. The age restriction does not apply to vehicles used in the production of agricultural or timber products on and across lands owned, leased, or managed by the owner or operator of a wheeled all-terrain vehicle or the operator's employer.

The bill changes the existing exemption for a person not having to wear a motorcycle helmet when operating on agricultural lands to "production of agricultural and timber products on and across lands owned or leased, or managed by the owner or operator of the off-road vehicle or the operator's employer."

The bill expands the use of existing ORV funds to publicly owned lands that come into private ownership in a federally approved land exchange completed between January 1, 1998, and January 1, 2005.

The bill adds definitions for:

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect on March 1, 2014.