Dirt bikes are popular off-road vehicles but are not normally seen on roads or highways. Even though these bikes are typically not used for road travel, they are still heavily regulated.
You do not need a license to operate a dirt bike when used for off-road purposes. However, if you decide to ride your dirt bike on public roads – which might be illegal – you need a valid driver’s license. Most dirt bikes are not street-legal, meaning they are not properly equipped for use on roads and highways. However, if you adapt your dirt bike to be street legal, you can use it on the road, but it must be registered and titled. The police may give chase to dirt bikes, especially if they see them being operated on the road. After a dirt bike-related injury, liability may be assessed like any other vehicle accident, but whether the dirt bike was being operated legally might play a significant role.
Schedule a free case evaluation at Rice, Murtha & Psoras by calling our Maryland dirt bike or ATV accident lawyers at (410) 694-7291.
Do You Need a License to Drive a Dirt Bike in Maryland?
You typically do not need a license to drive a dirt bike because it is considered an off-road vehicle. Off-road vehicles are defined under Md. Code, Natural Resources Art., § 10-410(d), and include motorized vehicles meant for or capable of cross-country travel on land, water, snow, marsh, swampland, or other natural terrains. Dirt bikes are often used for travel on trails and are considered off-road vehicles.
Although many off-road vehicles, including dirt bikes, do not require drivers to be licensed, the situation might change if you drive the dirt bike on public roads. First, operating a dirt bike on the road is often illegal as these vehicles are not street-legal. They often lack things like turn signals and mirrors, making them unsafe on the road. However, if you adapt the dirt bike to be street legal so you can drive it on the road, you must have a driver’s license.
Is it Legal to Ride a Dirt Bike on the Street in Maryland?
As discussed above, dirt bikes are off-road vehicles and not street-legal. They do not have the necessary equipment to operate safely on the road. However, that does not stop many people from using their dirt bikes like they would a motorcycle. If you are riding your dirt bike on the road or highway, you are likely going to be stopped by the police because they know dirt bikes are not street legal.
If you adapt the dirt bike to be street legal, you must also comply with other laws regarding motor vehicles. The dirt bike must be registered and tagged like any other motor vehicle. In addition, you must have insurance covering your dirt bike in case of an accident.
While riding a dirt bike on the street is often illegal, it is legal to ride them as you please on private property without a license or insurance. However, all ATVs and off-road vehicles in Maryland are required by law to be titled. In addition, you need a special decal for your dirt bike issued for off-road vehicles to use your dirt bike on trails maintained by the Department of Natural resources.
Will the Police Chase Dirt Bikes in Maryland?
Even if your dirt bike is street-legal, the police might still pull you over. It is not uncommon for people legally riding street-legal dirt bikes to be ticked by law enforcement. Our dirt bike accident lawyers will challenge the citation and prove that your dirt bike was legal, registered, tagged, and insured.
If the police stop you for illegally driving a dirt bike on the road, you may be heavily fined. In addition, you could be issued citations for traffic violations. For example, if you were illegally driving your dirt bike on a public road and ran a red light, you could be fined for riding the dirt bike and for running the red light.
Dirt bikes are popular among young people because you do not need a driver’s license to use one on private property or nature trails. They are also less expensive than typical motor vehicles like cars or motorcycles. As such, there might be penalties for parents or guardians who knowingly allow their child to operate a dirt bike on the road illegally.
How is Liability Determined After a Dirt Bike-Related Injury
In the event you are injured in an accident on your dirt bike, liability is determined based on where and how the accident occurs. If you were driving your dirt bike on the road or highway, liability may be determined similarly to other car accidents.
The other driver may be held liable if we can show that they were negligent when the accident happened. For example, if a negligent driver blew a stop sign and hit you on your dirt bike, they might be held liable. Keep in mind that if you were illegally driving your dirt bike on the road or driving negligently, you might be found contributorily negligent, and your compensation might be reduced.
Dirt bikes are intended for use on private property and trails or trails maintained by the Department of Natural Resources. You can sue the property owner if your accident occurred on private property because the land was poorly maintained. The property owner might be held liable I they knew or should have known about unsafe conditions or hazards on the property that could cause a dirt bike accident and failed to repair or remove them.
If your dirt bike accident happened on a trial or property maintained by the Department of Natural resources, you might have a claim against the government. While suing the government is possible, there are some extra hurdles. If you sue the state, you must submit a notice of your claim to the State Treasurer within one year of the accident.
Call Our Maryland Dirt Bike or ATV Accident Attorneys About Your Case
Schedule a free case evaluation at Rice, Murtha & Psoras by calling our Baltimore dirt bike or ATV accident lawyers at (410) 694-7291.