A Division Of The
Department of Public Safety
Public Information and Education Division - PO Box 568 - Jefferson City, MO 65102


For further information please contact: Capt. J. Tim Hull
(573) 526-6115
July 9, 2009

EMPHASIS: Missouri Law And ATVs

Colonel James F. Keathley, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, would like to remind the public of some Missouri laws regarding the operation and ownership of ATVs (all terrain vehicles).

Missouri law directs that no person shall operate an ATV upon the highways of Missouri unless the ATV is owned and operated by the government for official use, or operated for agricultural use between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Those operating ATVs on a highway must have a valid operator’s license. (“Highway” is defined as any road open to the public, including dirt/gravel roads.) All ATVs must be operated at speeds less than 30 miles per hour.

No person under the age of 16 shall operate an ATV in Missouri unless he or she is accompanied by or under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian, or is accompanied by an adult who is authorized by the parent or guardian. (Note: This does not apply on private property owned by the parent or guardian of such person operating the all terrain vehicle.)

It is unlawful for any person to own an ATV in this state unless a certificate of ownership (title) has been issued by the Department of Revenue. Application for a certificate of ownership must be made within 30 days after the owner acquires the ATV. Certificates and decals expire when an ATV is sold. The new owner must register the ATV in his or her name with the Department of Revenue and pay the registration fee.

However, registration is not required for an ATV if it is owned and operated by the United States, another state, or a governmental agency; by the state of Missouri or an agency thereof; or is covered by a valid registration of another state or country, and that have not been within Missouri for more than 30 days.

ATV drivers must have permission to operate an ATV on private property. ATV drivers are prohibited from operating an ATV in any stream or river in Missouri unless the waterway is within the boundaries of land owned by the operator or permission for the operator to ride has been granted by the property’s owner. Remember: Railroad tracks and the property on which they lie are private property. Anyone riding an ATV on the tracks or the area around them is committing a crime, and putting their life in great danger.

No person shall operate an ATV:

• in a careless way so as to endanger the person or property of another;
• while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance;
• without a securely fastened safety helmet, unless at least age 18. The Patrol recommends that everyone, regardless of age, wear protective headgear.
• with a passenger, except for agricultural purposes. Every person legally operating or driving an ATV upon the highways of Missouri shall observe and comply with the rules of the road.

Make sure your ATV has the following equipment:

• a lighted head lamp and tail lamp when the ATV is operated on any street or highway;
• a slow-moving equipment emblem mounted on the rear of the ATV when being operated on any street or highway;
• a bicycle flag, extending at least seven feet above the ground, must be attached to the rear of the ATV when operating on any street or highway;
• an adequate muffler system;
• A U.S. Forest Service-qualified spark arrester; and,
• a brake system in good operating condition.

Parents: While there is no age requirement for driving an ATV, this does not mean a child of any age can safely operate one. It is the responsibility of the parents to make sure their children are prepared mentally and physically to drive an ATV. ATVs come in many sizes, thus, it is also important to match the rider with the ATV. The Patrol strongly urges parents to have their children attend a certified ATV safety course. As with operating any motor vehicle, safety should come first.