Ontario Rules

Ontario’s Off-Road Vehicles Legislation/Regulations


Off-road vehicles (ORVs) now have more access to the shoulder and paved portions of some Ontario highways. These new regulations, effective July 31, 2003, apply exclusively to one category of ORV. This is defined as an off-road vehicle 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
  • meets requirements of federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI standard). New regulations do not apply to other types of off-road vehicles such as mini-bikes, dirt bikes and moto-cross bikes

Municipal Authority Regarding Off-Road Vehicles

As of July 2003, municipalities were given the authority to determine whether or not off-road vehicles (ORVs) should be allowed access to highways under their authority. Municipalities must put a by-law in place for ORVs to be allowed access to their highways. Municipalities can determine which highways, where on the highway, time of day, and season that ORVs are allowed access. They can also set speed limits that are lower than those set out in the regulation. If a by-law does not exist, ORVs are not allowed access to that municipality’s road.
More information specific to municipal authority is available at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/orv.shtml, Statutes and Associated Regulations, Highway Traffic Act, Section 191.8.

It is the ORV operator’s responsiblity to research the ATV by-law in the municipality they wish to ride.
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  • New regulations apply to provincial highways only
  • Prohibited from 400 series highways, Trans-Canada Highway
  • Generally, vehicles will be allowed access to highways 500 to 899, 7000 series highways and highways with low traffic volume.
  • Provincial highways with a Summer Average Daily Traffic (SADT) level less than 5,000. Specific provincial highways where ORVs can travel are defined in the regulation schedules.
  • Existing provisions for ORVs on roads in far Northern Ontario still apply.
  • ORVs can operate on shoulder; move to traveled portion of highway if shoulder is impassable/unsafe
  • Speed limit lower than posted limits:
    • 20 km/h — highways where speed limit is 50 km/h or less;
    • 50 km/h — highways where speed limit is over 50 km/h.
  • Not allowed on rights-of-way (e.g., medians) between opposing lanes of traffic.
  • Cannot operate in a construction zone, on a closed highway, or within a provincial park unless allowed by the park.
  • Municipalities may pass by-laws to decide if, where and when off-road vehicles can be used on local roads.

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  • Riders must wear a motorcycle helmet, have a valid G2/M2 or greater driver’s licence, registration and insurance.
  • ORVs must be registered and have a valid permit except in exempt areas (e.g., far Northern Ontario).
  • Previous exemptions for farmers, trappers and public utility workers remain in place.

More information is available in the Driver’s Handbook Online
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  • ORV operators must observe a speed limit lower than posted limits.
  • Passengers are not allowed.
  • May tow trailers.
  • Driver’s view in all directions must not be obstructed.
  • It is against the law to drive an off-road vehicle when impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • Riders must operate their ORV in the same direction of traffic.

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  • ORVs must have the specified equipment (e.g., head lights, tail lights, working brakes, reflectors, low-pressure bearing tires).
  • Width and weight restrictions appropriate to type of vehicle.

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  • No person shall operate an ORV in such a way as to disrupt or destroy the natural environment including fish habitats, property and flora or fauna.

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  • Whenever you operate your ATV off private property Licence and Registration regulations require you to  have licence plates on your ATV.  This also applies to kids size ATV’s.  And remember, unlicensed children under 16 years on age are not permitted to operate ATV’s on public roads.


Northumberland District ATV Riders Club