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Here's what you need to know about off-road vehicle laws

OPP issues warning as warm weather approaches
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With the nice weather in place, more people are hitting the trails and enjoying outdoor activities on their off-road vehicles (ORV). The East Algoma Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) would like to remind riders to have a safe and enjoyable summer season, but be mindful of the laws in place.

Dirt bikes:

  • A two wheeled dirt bike is classified as an off-road motorcycle (ORM) and these are NOT permitted on Schedule B highways - ie. City streets, Highway 108, Highway 17 - Anything that the municipality or Ministry Transportation Ontario (MTO) maintains.
  • Dirt bikes are supposed to be walked to a trail head entry.
  • They are to be green plated unless operation is on a closed race-track or one's own private property.
  • Dirt bikes can be operated on trails and Schedule C highways - dirt roads in unorganized townships that are not under the jurisdiction of the MTO or a municipality.
  • There are no lights (headlight, signal, brake light), tires are designed for dirt, insurance may not be required, and class M license not required. These are strictly for off road use only

An ATV is an ORV that:

  • has four wheels, the tires of which are all in contact with the ground,
  • has steering handlebars,
  • has a seat that is designed to be straddled by the driver, and
  • is designed to carry:  
    • (i) a driver only and no passengers, or
    • (ii) a driver and only one passenger (minimum 8 years old), if the vehicle, (a) has one passenger seat that is designed to be straddled by the passenger while sitting facing forward behind the driver, and (b) is equipped with foot-rests for the passenger that are separate from the foot rests for the driver.


Side by sides and 2-up ATVs are permitted to travel on some roadways as well. ATVs that are capable of carrying a passenger are also legal, provided the passenger seat and foot pegs are in place from the manufacturer.

ORV Highway Traffic Act (HTA) regulatory requirements

To operate on a highway/city streets requires:

  • Permit
  • Plate
  • Insurance
  • Proper helmet and/or Seatbelt
  • Driver's licence of Class G2 or M2 or higher (16 years)
  • Any passenger must be at least 8 years old
  • Speed limit of 20km/h in zone not greater than 50km/h
  • Speed limit of 50km/h in zone greater than 50km/h
  • Lights must be turned "on"

Always check local by-laws pertaining to ATV/ORV rules specific to the municipality you are riding in.

Off road vehicles (ORV's) are permitted on Schedule B/C highways as of July 1, 2015. This includes four-wheeled ATVs, side-by-sides, and multi-purpose four wheeled off-highway utility vehicles (ie. Kubota, John Deere, farm vehicles with the dump boxes)

Extreme terrain vehicles (ie. Argo, Polaris six-by-six), three-wheeled ORVs (ie. old Honda Big Red three-wheeler or ATC three-wheeler), and two-wheeled dirt bikes are still prohibited from Schedule A (multi-lane like 400 series) and Schedule B highways.