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Can You Ride a Dirt Bike on the Road?

Off-Road Vehicles in Nevada

It’s not legal to ride off-highway vehicles on the roadway in Nevada, and most dirt bikes fall under this designation. However, there are some differences in the law for dirt bikes compared to other off-highway vehicles, such as ATVs or dune buggies. Find out more about whether you can ride a dirt bike on the road below and what legal issues might arise if you’re involved in a motorcycle accident when doing so.

Why Can’t You Ride Off-Highway Vehicles on the Roadway?

Off-highway vehicles, or OHVs, are vehicles designed specifically for use off of the roadways. They are not equipped to be safe and fully functional on the road because they are designed for recreational or work purposes in other terrains. When you ride or drive these vehicles on the roadways in Nevada, you create a risk for yourself and other drivers and passengers. Because of this, it’s not legal to operate these vehicles on the road. Off-highway vehicles you can’t operate legally on Nevada roads include:
  • All-terrain vehicles not certified for use on public roads
  • Snowmobiles
  • Dune buggies
  • Electric bikes
  • Trimobiles
  • Pocket bikes
  • Utility vehicles not certified for use on public roads
  • Non-road three- or four-wheeled vehicles
  • Dirt bikes not certified for use on public roads
If you’re not sure if your vehicle qualifies as an off-highway vehicle, you can consult the owner’s manual or other documents from the manufacturer. These documents must indicate if the vehicle is only for use off of the road. Some motorcycles and other vehicles that meet this designation also have stickers somewhere on the body of the vehicle indicating that they are off-highway vehicles.

When Is It Legal to Ride a Dirt Bike on Nevada Streets?

In most cases, individuals who have dirt bikes for recreational purposes cannot legally operate those bikes on the roadways. That means you need a trailer or other way to haul your dirt bikes from your home to an off-road location where you can ride them. However, if you can convert your off-road motorcycle to one that is certified for use on public roads, you can legally operate it on the roadway. That would allow you to use the modified dirt bike to commute or run errands. It would also let you ride the bike directly from your home to a recreational off-road area without having to haul it. To convert your off-highway vehicle into a machine that can legally operate on the roadway, you first have to add the necessary safety equipment. Requirements include brake lights, headlights, mirrors, and other elements to support safety on the road and in and around other traffic. You’ll also need to get your dirt bike certified by an appropriate mechanic shop and complete the Motorcycle Highway Use Affidavit. This form requires a safety inspection to ensure that a converted off-highway motorcycle has all of the following functions to make it safe for use on the road:
  • A horn
  • Headlights
  • Turn signals
  • Adequate frame
  • Reflectors
  • Taillights
  • Mufflers
  • Tires that meet DOT requirements
  • Brake lights
  • Fenders
  • Mirrors
  • Brakes
Once you add all these elements to your dirt bike and have them inspected and certified by a shop, you must bring the affidavit, dirt bike, title to your dirt bike, and two forms of ID to the Nevada DMV. You’ll also need to get insurance on your dirt bike before you go to the DMV, as it is required before the DMV will issue a license plate. If all your paperwork is satisfactory, the DMV will provide a license plate for you to attach to your dirt bike. At this point, you can legally operate it on the roadways. Note that you should not ride your dirt bike to the DMV to get the license plate. Even if you have received approval on your safety features from a mechanic, your dirt bike is not street-legal until you install the license plate.

What Happens If You’re Involved in an Accident While Riding a Dirt Bike on the Road?

If you’re involved in an accident on the roadway while riding a dirt bike, your injuries can be serious. That’s especially true if you are in a collision with a car or other larger vehicle. You might wonder whether you can seek compensation for your injuries from other drivers involved in the accident. The answer is complicated and depends on a variety of factors. If you are involved in a distracted driving accident, for example, and the driver of the other vehicle was texting, you may be able to demonstrate they were liable for the incident. However, if you were operating a dirt bike illegally on the streets and the other driver can claim they didn’t see you because you didn’t have reflectors or taillights, you might be deemed liable or partially liable for the accident. These facts can impact the outcome of a case. Nevada does have comparative negligence laws, though. Unless you’re deemed more than 50 percent at fault for an accident, you may be able to get compensation for some of your damages. That means you might have a case even if you were operating an off-highway vehicle on the road illegally. The best way to understand what your options are and how strong your case for compensation might be is to contact a personal injury lawyer. Reach out to the team at High Stakes Injury Law today to find out more.

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By Scott L. Poisson

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