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West Virginia ATV Laws

Posted in ATV accidents,Safety Tips on June 10, 2019

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are very popular in West Virginia and throughout the U.S. ATV owners who enjoy taking these vehicles off-road should know that as motor vehicles, ATVs are subject to state laws, and West Virginia has several laws that apply to ATV use in the state. If you own an ATV or plan to purchase one, it is essential to know these laws. Following ATV laws in West Virginia will help maintain safety and prevent incurring legal penalties.

ATV Accident Statistics

The West Virginia University Center for Rural Emergency Medicine provides a full rundown of West Virginia’s ATV laws and the statistics of ATV accidents in the state.

  • About 95% of ATV crash victims were not wearing helmets at the times of their crashes.
  • Roughly one third of all ATV crashes involve a passenger.
  • About 40% of ATV crashes occur on paved streets.
  • Roughly 25% of all ATV accident deaths are children under the age of 16.
  • About 22% of all ATV accidents involve drugs or alcohol.

West Virginians should consider these statistics and cultivate safe riding habits.

ATV Laws in West Virginia

State law prohibits all West Virginia ATV operators from carrying passengers unless their vehicles carry passengers by design. Most ATVs are one-person vehicles. Children under 16 years old should not operate any ATV with an engine size greater than 90 cubic centimeters. West Virginia strongly encourages riders to wear appropriate helmets and safety equipment and refrain from consuming drugs or alcohol before operating their ATVs.

West Virginia also upholds several other specific laws pertaining to safe and legal ATV operation in the state.

  • ATV operators may not travel on interstate highways.
  • ATVs must have operational headlights and taillights if ridden between sunset and sunrise.
  • An ATV must have a manufacturer-installed spark arrester and muffler.
  • An ATV operator under the age of 18 may not carry a passenger. A rider over the age of 18 with a valid driver’s license and an ATV with space for a passenger may carry one passenger under the age of 18.
  • Any ATV operator under the age of 18 must wear a helmet.
  • As of January 1, 2005, no ATV operator may use an ATV without completing a vehicle rider safety awareness course. This does not apply to ATV operation on private property.

Failure to abide by these laws can result in fines or loss of license. A first offense could qualify as a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor could result in a fine of no more than $100 and ten hours of community service. A second offense will qualify for a fine up to $200 and up to 20 hours of community service.

Stay Safe and Limit Liability

Abiding by West Virginia’s ATV laws not only helps keep you safe and avoid legal penalties like fines but can also help limit your liability in the event of an accident. If you have an ATV accident in West Virginia, your failure to wear a helmet or abide by state laws could lead to you absorbing partial liability for the accident. West Virginia upholds a comparative negligence law, meaning a plaintiff found partially at fault for a personal injury will lose a portion of his or her settlement or case award equal to his or her fault percentage. For example, a plaintiff found 10% at fault for a $50,000 ATV accident claim would lose 10% of the case award or $5,000 for a net award of $45,000 instead.

All West Virginia ATV operators must abide by state laws at all times. Operators must use good judgment whenever they ride their ATVs, even on private property. These vehicles are fun, but they are also incredibly dangerous when mishandled or driven irresponsibly. If you or a loved one suffered injury in an ATV accident due to another party’s negligence, contact a West Virginia personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options for legal recourse.