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How Do I Get an ATV License?

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  • Written By: Maggie J. Hall
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2016
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The necessity of acquiring an ATV license depends on the regulations of each state. Some states require an actual operator's license while others only require proof of passing an all-terrain-vehicle (ATV) safety course. In some states, the age of the rider also determines the documentation needed. Besides an ATV license, a state may require vehicle titling and registration depending on where the ATV will be used. Registration requirements can also vary from county to county within some states. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the county courthouse generally has this information.

Arizona, Georgia, and Illinois are among the states that require an actual ATV license. These states require the ATV operator to have a class "M," or motorcycle endorsement on his driver's license in order to operate an ATV. Obtaining a class "M" endorsement generally requires passing a written examination as well as a driving test. After passing the written exam, an individual usually obtains a learner's permit, giving him time to learn the skills necessary to complete the driving test. Some states also require that the motorcycle used for the examination have at least a 100 cubic centimeter (cc) engine.

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In lieu of an ATV license, many states insist that ATV operators pass an ATV safety course. Iowa, Montana, and Utah are among the states that allow the course to be taken online. The class provides audio and visual instruction and covers the chapters of the driving manual that discuss ATVs, required maintenance, and necessary safety gear. These chapters also provide information about responsible riding habits, techniques for driving on different terrain, first-aid, and emergency situations. Following each chapter, a quiz is given based on the material covered.

Upon completing the entire ATV safety course, operator's take a final exam. Successfully passing the exam entitles the test-taker to an ATV certificate. Online courses allow individuals who pass the test to print a temporary certificate. Some states require that ATV operators carry this certificate while driving an ATV. Drivers under the age of 18 may be required to take a hands-on safety course in some states before obtaining an ATV safety certificate.

States legislation also varies concerning the titling and registration of ATVs. If they plan to ride an ATV on public lands or roads, owners must take the title and registration of the ATV to the county treasurer's office, pay the required fees, and obtain license plates and registration stickers for three and four wheel types of ATVs. Certain states may also require a special permit, allowing the ATV operator access to public lands. A public land access ATV permit especially applies to owners who have an ATV registered in one county or state and but who drive the vehicle in another.

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