Press Release from Galveston County Sheriff’s Office
Subject: Deputies Gear Up For ATV/ROV Enforcement
Last month, a State Attorney General’s opinion provided some guidance for both operators and government officials about the use of all-terrain and recreational off-road vehicles (ATV/ROV’s) on Bolivar Peninsula beaches.
The opinion, reviewed by local officials, indicated such vehicles could be operated on public beaches – with certain limitations.
Armed with this new interpretation of law, Galveston County Sheriff Freddie Poor instructed his deputies to provide warnings to ATV/ROV operators found violating the law. That “grace period” expires July 20th, and deputies are gearing up for strict enforcement of statutes.
A controversial subject for some years, the operation of ATV/ROV’s on public beaches is generally allowed for persons older than 14 or, if under age 14, under the direct supervision of a parent, guardian, or other adult authorized by the parent or guardian. Drivers are allowed to cross a public roadway at a 90 degree angle, with headlamps and tail lamps illuminated (day or night), yielding to all oncoming traffic.
ATV/ROV’s are not permitted to be operated on any public roadway, which includes road shoulders and ditches, except in very limited circumstances connected with agricultural and utility service activities.
No vehicle, including ATV/ROV’s may be driven on any sand dune along the beach.
Other laws regulating the operation of motor vehicles – including speeding, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, and others, apply to the operation of ATV/ROV’s in all circumstances, even on public beaches.
“We want to do our best to help the public understand laws that apply to operating these kinds of vehicles,” said Sheriff Poor. “Our goal is to make sure the laws are followed and operators drive in a safe manner.”
Starting July 20th, operators found in violation of these and other applicable laws may find themselves facing time in court answering to a traffic ticket.
Contact: Maj. Ray Tuttoilmondo
Phone: (409) 766-2369 / (409) 789-7497
What are ATV’s and ROV’s?
An ATV – sometimes called “three-wheeler” or “four-wheeler” – is a motor vehicle, equipped with a saddle seat, designed to propel itself with three or four wheels on the ground and manufactured for off-highway use. An ROV – sometimes referred to as a “mule” – is the same as an ATV except that it is equipped with a non-saddle (bench or bucket) seats.
Aren’t ROV’s the same as a golf cart?
No. There are separate laws that regulate the operation of golf carts on beaches and roadways.
Can I drive my ATV or ROV on the beach?
Yes. ATV’s and ROV’s may be operated on any public beach on Bolivar Peninsula except for any area closed to vehicular traffic or on any sand dune.
There are some laws that say I can operate an ATV on a road. Why can’t I drive to the beach?
ATV’s and ROV’s may be driven on a roadway only by police officers or during certain agricultural and utility service activities
I have a house close to the beach. Am I allowed to ride my ATV or ROV to the beach?
NO. State law prohibits driving any ATV or ROV on any public roadway, which includes all roadways anywhere on Bolivar Peninsula. Also, it’s illegal to cross a sand dune to access the beach.
If I can’t drive my ATV or ROV to the beach, how do I get it there?
The only way is to bring the ATV or ROV to the beach using a road-legal motor vehicle (in the bed of a pickup truck, as an example) or using a road-legal trailer. “Road-legal” means that the vehicle and/or trailer is in full compliance with statutes regulating operation of a motor vehicle on a public roadway (license, insurance, lighting, etc.).
Do I have to have a driver’s license to operate an ATV or ROV on the beach?
A driver’s license is not required.
How fast can I drive my ATV or ROV on the beach?
The speed limit for all vehicles on Bolivar Peninsula beaches is 15 MPH.
My child is 12 years old. Can he drive an ATV or ROV on the beach?
Children under 14 may drive an ATV or ROV in any area where it is legal to operate only under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian, or under the direct supervision of an adult authorized by the child’s parent or guardian.
May I ride my ATV or ROV on private property?
Yes, providing it is your property or you’ve been given permission from the property owner.
Are there other laws that apply to operation of an ATV or ROV on the beach?
Laws such driving while intoxicated or reckless driving, among others, apply to ATV’s and ROV’s. The specific application of law varies on the facts of each situation. ATV and ROV operators following safe and courteous driving habits – much like those that should be followed driving any vehicle on a public roadway – should be able to enjoy a ride along the beach without endangering themselves or others.
What if I have questions about laws dealing with driving my ATV or ROV?
Ask any Galveston County Sheriff’s deputy, and they can help you through the maze of laws dealing with an ATV or ROV. Also, you may choose to attend an all-terrain vehicle safety education course where you can learn more about safely driving your ATV or ROV.