Vehicle Laws: ATVs and Motorized Bikes
All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Dirt Bikes
ATV and dirt bike operators are reminded of the need to drive their equipment legally and safely. These laws governing the use of ATVs and dirt bikes have been put in place for the safety of ATV operators, their friends, family and neighbors.
- ATVs and dirt bikes cannot be operated on roadways or public property.
- Dirt bikes can be driven on roadways or public property only as a motor vehicle, meaning they must be properly registered and tagged as a motorcycle and the proper license must be in possession.
- They cannot be operated on private property without the express written permission of the property owner. The written consent must be with the operator at all times. Those who operate ATVs or dirt bikes on private property without permission could face trespassing charges.
- They cannot be operated as an off-road vehicle within 300 feet of a residence.
- ATVs and dirt bikes cannot be operated as an off-road vehicle between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.
- All ATVs and dirt bikes operated anywhere in Baltimore County must display a Baltimore County registration permit. Registration can be obtained through the Baltimore County Bureau of Miscellaneous Permit Processing at 410-887-3616.
- A registration card must be carried and shown when requested by a police officer.
- Required safety equipment: Headgear is required for minors. All riders are required to have eye protection – protective devices or windscreens to protect the eyes.
Residents anywhere in the County interested in the legal, safe and secure operation of ATVs can check with the Community Outreach Team of their local precinct.
Motorized Scooters, Motor Scooters, Mopeds, “Pocket Rockets,” Mini-Cycles, Mini-Harleys
Motorized scooters, mini scooters, “pocket rockets,” and similar devices are growing in popularity and have generated a number of questions among consumers and community groups. In response, the Baltimore County Police Department offers these guidelines on owning and operating this equipment.
Motorized Scooter: A two-wheeled device with handlebars that is designed to be stood on by the operator and is powered by an electric or gas motor. Under county code, motorized scooters cannot be driven on any public road or highway. They can be ridden only on private property and only with the property owner’s permission.
Motor Scooter: has a seat for the operator, and two wheels, one of which is 10” in diameter or more and has a step-through chassis. It has a motor with a rating of 2.7 brake horsepower or less, or a motor with a capacity of 50cc displacement or less and is equipped with an automatic transmission.
Motor scooters can be ridden on any road where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour or less, but they cannot be driven faster than 30 miles per hour. Operators must have a valid driver’s license.
Motor scooters must have appropriate headlights and rear reflectors. Every motor scooter must have brakes and be equipped with a bell or other warning device capable of being heard for a distance of at least 100 feet.
On October 1, 2012, motor scooter operators must provide insurance and operators must wear a helmet. If operators fail to comply with the law, they will be issued a citation. A mandatory title is also part of the new law. Operators will have a grace period of 30 days to obtain the title decal for the scooter. On November 1, 2012, citations will be issued if the tile sticker is not present.
Moped: A bicycle designed to be operated with the assistance of a motor and is equipped with pedals that mechanically drive the rear wheels. It has two or three wheels, one of which is more than 14 inches in diameter, and has a motor with a rating of 1.5 brake horsepower or less, and an internal combustion engine of 50cc piston displacement or less.
The laws governing mopeds are similar to those governing motor scooters. The operator of a moped must possess a valid Maryland driver’s license or a valid moped license. Mopeds can be ridden on any road where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour or less, but they cannot be driven faster than 30 miles per hour.
Mopeds must have appropriate headlights and rear reflectors, must have brakes and be equipped with a bell or other warning device capable of being heard from a distance of at least 100 feet.
On October 1, 2012, moped operators must provide insurance and operators must wear a helmet. If operators fail to comply with the law, they will be issued a citation. A mandatory title is also part of the new law. Operators will have a grace period of 30 days to obtain the title decal for the moped. On November 1, 2012, citations will be issued if the tile sticker is not present.
“Pocket Rockets,” Mini-Cycles, Mini-Harleys
Vehicles popularly known as pocket rockets, mini-cycles, or mini-Harleys, do not have the characteristics of the devices listed above. For example, unlike motorized scooters, they have seats and they do not have the step-through chassis of a moped. In addition, under state law, these vehicles do not fit the description of a motor vehicle, and they cannot be registered and insured. Since they meet no legal requirements, they cannot be operated on public roads or streets. They can be operated on private property only with the property owner’s permission, and they cannot be operated within 300 feet of the property line of a residence.
The Baltimore County Police will enforce these laws, which could include impounding the vehicle.
Revised March 21, 2016
Revised April 6, 2016