Senate tweaks off-highway vehicle law


Shutterstock Image by Phillip Rubino

A bill to make slight clarifications to last year’s off-highway vehicle (OHV) law unanimously passed the New Mexico State Senate Wednesday (Feb. 8). 

The revised law, SB 51aa sponsored by Senate Minority Caucus Chair Steve Neville (R – Aztec), allows off-highway vehicles to drive on paved roads unless prohibited by local authorities. It also makes clarifications that include:

  • Operators on paved roads shall be subject to the requirements under the Motor Vehicle Code.
  • Operators under 18 to wear a safety helmet that complies with the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Act. (Act) .
  • Operators must wear eye protection that complies with the Act.
  • Provides local entities the ability to issue license plates rather than the current stickers.

The bill has moved to the House Transportation & Public Works Committee.

Red River Marshal David Smith, who helped craft a Town Ordinance following the first bill’s passage last year, said the proposed legislation “pretty much codifies into state law what we did with our ordinance. [It] just tightens up some loose language. I am anxious to see if it passes.”

With guidance from the state Department of Transportation, Red River’s Town Council passed an ordinance Aug. 23, 2016, allowing the use of Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROHV) such as side by sides, mules, Razrs, etc., inside town on Main Street (NM 38) between Caribel on the west side of town and Jayhawk Trail on the east side of town. The ordinance prohibits parking on Main Street in town.

Smith said last year, in accordance with state law, “ATVs are not allowed. ATVs are any straddle-seat vehicles or handle bar driven vehicles.”