The ABCs of Off-road and Recreational Vehicle Use: ATVs, ROVs, OHMs, Go-Karts, and Golf Carts
Florida law distinguishes several types of off-highway and recreational vehicles: ATVs, ROVs, OHMs, low-speed vehicles and golf carts. In this library article, personal injury attorney, Jeffrey Meldon, defines the various categories of off-road vehicles and gives the rules regarding their operation, according to Florida Law.
All-terrain vehicle (ATV) is defined by Florida Statute §317.0003(1) as any motorized off-highway or all-terrain vehicle 50 inches or less in width, weighing less than 1,200 pounds, designed to travel on three or more tires with a seat designed to be straddled and handlebars for steering control, intended for use by a single operator with no passenger. There are also two-rider ATVs, which are ATVs that are specifically designed by the manufacturer for a single operator and one passenger (Fla. Stat. 317.0003(10)).
Recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) is any motorized recreational off-highway vehicle 60 inches or less in width, having a dry weight of 1,500 pounds or less, designed to travel on four or more non-highway tires, and, unlike an ATV, having nonstraddle seating and a steering wheel (Fla. Stat. 261.03(9)). Motorized go-karts also fall into this category.
Off-highway motorcycle (OHM) is any motorized vehicle used off the road/highway that has a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and is designed to travel with not more than two wheels in contact with the ground, and it excludes a tractor or a moped.
Low-speed vehicle is any four-wheeled electric vehicle whose top speed is between 20 to 25 miles per hour.
Golf cart is a motor vehicle designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 miles per hour.
The Laws Regarding:
In Florida, an ATV, ROV and OHM cannot be operated on a public road, street or highway. The only exception is that they may be operated on a unpaved public roadway where the posted speed limit is less than 35 miles per hour and only during daytime (Fla. Stat. §316.2123).
An ATV, OHM or ROV operator under 16 years of age must be supervised by a licensed driver and must wear a helmet and eye protection. In addition to direct supervision, eye protection, over-the-ankle boots, and a safety helmet, those under 16 who want to operate the off-highway vehicle on a public land must also pass a safety course (Fla. Stat. §261.20(3)).
The operator of an off-highway vehicle may not carry a passenger unless a vehicle is specifically designed by the manufacturer to carry an operator and a single passenger (i.e. two-rider ATV).
Anyone who violates the above-mentioned laws commits a noncriminal infraction and is subject to a fine of not less than $100. In addition, he or she might be prohibited from operating an off-highway vehicle on public lands. The fine for a second or subsequent violation or for a violation with intent to defraud is not less than $500. (Fla. Stat. 261.20(6)).
A low-speed vehicle may be operated on the streets only if the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less. (Fla. Stat. §316.2122). However, the rider of a low-speed vehicle may cross a road or street at an intersection where that road or street has a higher speed limit. In addition to being equipped with headlamps, stop lamps, turn signal lamps, tail lamps, reflex reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, seat belts, and vehicle identification numbers, a low-speed vehicle must be registered and insured and its operator must always have in its possession a valid driver’s license.
A golf cart may not be operated on public roads or streets, except for the roads specifically designated by a county for golf cart use, roads that are part of the State Park Road System if the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less, or when the appropriate sign on the road indicates that such golf cart operation is allowed (Fla. Stat. §316.212). A person under 14 may not operate a golf cart on public roads or streets.
For more information and safety tips:
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