Security and Safety

Get the Dirt on Texas Off-Roading Laws

By Abi Grise Morgan 6.3.21

Texas has always been a welcoming state to those who forge their own path, and that includes off-roaders. If you get your thrills motorbiking through the mud or climbing over rocks in your Jeep, you’re in the right place. Before you buckle up for a wild ride, here’s what you need to know about off-roading in Texas.

Riding on Public Property? Get a Decal

In 2005, Texas Legislature created the Texas Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Program. This gave Texans a way to safely and responsibly drive off-roading vehicles on public lands or lands that have received OHV grants from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. All you need is a decal.

How to get the decal: OHV decals are only $16, and you can buy them online or at an authorized dealer — they’re good for the whole year. The best part? The money goes back into programs that create or improve OHV recreation areas in Texas.

What vehicles need a decal: According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, ATVs, motorcycles, full-sized OHVs, and street-legal full-sized vehicles need an OHV. Basically, if you ride it and drive it on Texas public lands, it needs one, even if you already have a license plate.

What happens if you go off-roading in Texas without one: Fines for operating an OHV on public lands without an official decal may cost you anywhere from $25 to $500.

Does an ATV Require Vehicle Registration?

Texas used to require registration for ATV and UTV vehicles for off-highway use. Today, they’re no longer required, but it’s a good idea to obtain a title from your county tax assessor’s office. ATV theft is common. A title in hand ensures you’re in possession of a legally acquired vehicle.

OHV Legal Requirements

To ride on Texas public grounds, The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles requires your vehicle to include these essential components:

  • Brakes
  • Muffler
  • U.S. Forest Service-qualified spark arrester
  • Headlight and taillight
  • OHV decal issued by the Texas Parks & Recreation Department

OHV Safety Laws

While a Texas Ranger isn’t going to pull you over for driving an ATV on your own property in flip-flops, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department does have OHV safety requirements for driving on Texas public lands. Here are a few:

  • Ride an ATV appropriate for your age. Passengers age 6 and older may ride ATVs under 70cc; age 12 and older, 70-90cc; age 16 and older, over 90cc.
  • Riders younger than 16 need supervision.
  • Full-sized OHVs should have hardtops or roll cages, seat belts, and carry fire extinguishers.
  • As with any vehicle, buckle up!
  • Never drive on paved surfaces and public roads.

Before you head out on your Texas off-roading excursion, call your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent to make sure you’re covered. You’ll have the peace of mind you’re protected wherever your adventure takes you.

If you’re planning on taking your golf cart off-road (or off the links), keep this legal guide handy.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation.  © 2021 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance