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Operation / Equipment Requirements

Operation Requirements

Possession of Alcohol
It is illegal to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while riding in or operating an off-highway vehicle. California Vehicle Code (CVC) sections 23220, 23222, 23223, 23225, and 23226 have been amended to include public lands.

The intent of these laws is to make the possession of alcohol in a vehicle the same whether you are driving on a highway or off-highway.

The laws are designed to reduce alcohol-related accidents, but also allow vehicles such as 4-wheel drives and snowmobiles to transport such items in locked containers or even ice chests if they are secured in a manner that are not accessible to the occupants or the operator.

Speed, Turning, Reckless Driving
You may not drive a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the safety of other persons or their property. (CVC §§38305, 38314, 38316a, 38317)

Prima Facie Speed Limit
No motor vehicle shall exceed 15 mph within 50 feet of any campground, campsite, or concentration of people or animals. (CVC §38310)

Suspended Driving Privilege
A driver's license is not necessary to operate an OHV in most areas. However, if your driving privilege is suspended in California, you may not operate an OHV on California public lands. (CVC §14601.1(e))

Equipment Requirements

Headlamps / Taillamps
Any vehicle operated between sunset and sunrise must display at least one headlight that enables an operator to see clearly 200 feet ahead and one red taillight visible for 200 feet. (CVC §§38335, 38345)

Prohibition: Warning Lights
A person shall not display a flashing or steady burning red or blue warning light on an off-highway motor vehicle except as permitted by section 21055 of when an extreme hazard exists. (CVC §38346)

Prohibition: Use of Siren
(a)  An off-highway motor vehicle, except an authorized emergency vehicle, shall not be equipped with a siren.
(b)  A person driving an off-highway motor vehicle, except the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle as permitted by section 21055, shall not use a siren. (CVC §38375)

Noise Limits
Information about noise limits is available on the OHV Noise Regulations web page.

Spark Arresters
Information about spark arresters is available on the Spark Arrester Laws web page.

Reach and Operate
Information about this law is available on the Reach and Operate Law web page.

This is only an excerpt of laws relating to OHV recreation. For a complete list, see Division 16.5 of the California Vehicle Code available at DMV offices or on the California Vehicle Code Division 16.5 web page.