RBC I The Colorado State House of Representatives is currently considering a bill that would impact OHV operators statewide, including a change that would require an OHV operator to have a state-issued driver’s license in order to operate any Off Highway Vehicles (OHV) including ATVs and side-by-sides.
The bill, HB15-1054, presents several major changes from current law. Currently, the law requires drivers of ATVs to be a minimum of 10 years of age, unless they are being supervised by someone with a valid driver’s license.
All OHV’s must be registered with the state annually. The vehicles are also required to have both headlights and taillights when being operated between sunup and sundown.
Individual counties and towns are allowed to institute stricter laws in addition to the state laws and several areas currently require a minimum age of 16 to operate an OHV.
The bill adds the following additional regulations: the vehicle must be covered by insurance, the vehicle must display a license plate and have head and taillights. The driver must wear either eyeglasses or a helmet with eye protection or, if under age 18, the driver and passengers must wear a helmet.
In addition, the motorist will be required to pay a license plate fee, insurance identification fee and registration fee of $10. Violations are to be classified as Class B traffic infractions and come with a penalty of fines ranging from $15 to $100 with no driver’s license suspension points.
The bill quickly received two additional amendments, which, according to Rio Blanco County Commissioner Shawn Bolton, were pushed for heavily by the Colorado State Patrol. These amendments would require that all OHV drivers have a valid driver’s license and would make it illegal to drive any OHV on any paved roads.
Bolton expressed several concerns with these amendments. His first concern was the future of the OHV trails that both Meeker and Rangely have worked on during the last several years. Access to these trails would require drivers to spend some time on paved roads, which would be illegal if the bill were to pass, essentially killing the new trail routes.
Bolton’s second concern was that the amendments would severely limit family outings. Bolton said “what 14 or 15 year old wants to ride on the back of mommy or daddy’s four wheeler?”
Bolton encourages people to contact Stan Hilkey at the Colorado Department of Public Safety or call the governor’s office and let them know how this will impact their lives.
The bill, sponsored by State Rep. J. Paul Brown (R) from Ignacio, has currently passed committee and will be headed to the House for a vote in the next few weeks.
Brown’s campaign website lists the elimination of government regulation and red tape as one of his primary issues of concern.
For now, the Rio Blanco County Commissioners will wait and see where the bill goes, Bolton said, adding that the amendments brought in by the state patrol will be pulled in the next week or two.
However, Bolton said, if the bill moves forward with the various amendments, “Rio Blanco County will actively fight this bill.”