MD ORV Statute

As of 2015 – http://www.dsd.state.md.us/COMAR/SubtitleSearch.aspx?search=08.01.03.*

Title 08 DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Subtitle 01 OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY

Chapter 03 Off-Road Vehicles

Authority: Natural Resources Article, §§1-104 and 5-209, Annotated Code of Maryland

.01 Application.

  1. This chapter applies to any motorized vehicle that falls within the definition of off-road vehicle in Regulation .02B(8) of this chapter.
  2. Except as provided in this chapter, an off-road vehicle may not be operated on a forest or park trail designated in Regulation .11 of this chapter.
  3. Emergency and Departmental vehicles are exempted from this chapter.
  4. The following are exempted from provisions of this chapter if the vehicle use is an approved Departmental activity that includes:

(1) Earth-moving, construction, or logging equipment;

(2) Vehicles used for the development, maintenance, management, or protection of Department lands; and

(3) Vehicles used by individuals holding easements for rights-of-way through public land, and their guests, in order to access private properties.

.02 Definitions.

  1. In this chapter, the following terms have the meanings indicated.
  2. Terms Defined.

(1) “ANSI” means the American National Standards Institute.

(2) “ASTM” means the American Society for Testing and Materials.

(3) “Commissioned officer” means a forest or park warden, or forest or park ranger, having the authority stated in Natural Resources Article, §5-206, Annotated Code of Maryland, or Natural Resources police officer having the authority stated in Natural Resources Article, §1-204, Annotated Code of Maryland.

(4) “Deer bow season” means those dates open for hunting deer in accordance with COMAR 08.03.03.06—.08.

(5) “Deer firearms season” means those dates open for hunting deer in accordance with COMAR 08.03.03.06—.08.

(6) “Department” means the Department of Natural Resources.

(7) “Department lands” means the State Forests, State Parks, Wildlife Management Areas, Cooperative Wildlife Management Areas, Natural Environmental Areas, Wildlands and Natural Resource Management Areas.

(8) “Manager” means that commissioned officer or designated employee having management authority for a particular Department land.

(9) Off-Road Vehicle (ORV).

(a) “Off-road vehicle (ORV)” means a motorized vehicle designed for or capable of cross-country travel on land, water, snow, ice, marsh, swampland, or other natural terrain.

(b) “Off-road vehicle (ORV)” includes:

(i) A four-wheel drive or low pressure tire vehicle;

(ii) An automobile;

(iii) A truck;

(iv) A motorcycle and related two-wheel vehicle;

(v) An amphibious machine;

(vi) A ground effect or air cushion vehicle;

(vii) A snowmobile; and

(viii) A golf cart.

(10) “ORV trail” means an area designated for use by ORVs.

(11) “SAE” means the Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc.

(12) “Secretary” means the Secretary of Natural Resources.

(13) “Snowmobile” means a track-powered vehicle manufactured specifically for recreational use over snow.

(14) “Spring turkey season” means those dates for hunting turkey in accordance with COMAR 08.03.03.03D(2).

.03 Registration and Licensing Requirements for Operating ORVs on Designated Areas.

  1. Restrictions.

(1) Subject to the restrictions of §A(2)—(5) of this regulation, an individual may operate an ORV in the areas designated in Regulation .11 of this chapter.

(2) The operator shall be:

(a) The holder of a valid driver’s license which is in the operator’s possession;

(b) The holder of a Maryland instruction and examination learner’s permit, which is in the operator’s possession, and accompanied by a licensed driver; or

(c) 12 years old or older and accompanied on the trail by a parent or legal guardian who is the holder of a valid driver’s license which is in the parent’s or guardian’s possession.

(3) The operator shall possess and have in the operator’s possession:

(a) An ORV registration issued by the Department; or

(b) A copy of the ORV lease or rental agreement which shall contain all of the following:

(i) Signature of the owner or the owner’s designee;

(ii) Signature of the person leasing or renting the ORV; and

(iii) Time period of the lease or rental.

(4) The ORV shall be registered annually with the:

(a) Department and display a registration sticker in accordance with the requirements of this regulation; or

(b) Motor Vehicle Administration as a licensed motor vehicle for on-road use.

  1. Registration stickers and certificates of registration are available at the Department’s regional service centers and from the Department and designated agents in accordance with §E of this regulation.
  2. The applicant shall pay an applicable annual service charge and provide the required owner and ORV information.
  3. The Department may furnish an ORV registration sticker and certificate of registration on consignment to a designated agent who provides a bond or other security considered sufficient and adequate by the Department to insure payment for the registration sticker and certificate of registration.
  4. A registration sticker and certificate of registration issued by the Department:

(1) Shall be valid January 1 through December 31;

(2) Shall authorize use of the ORV only in those areas set forth in Regulation .11 of this chapter;

(3) May not be transferred; and

(4) May be revoked or suspended by the Department for a violation of this chapter.

  1. A registration sticker shall be displayed on the left front portion of the vehicle to ensure visibility at 100 feet during daylight hours.
  2. Daily reservation permits must be acquired online through the Department’s ORV permit reservation systems. A printed copy of the online confirmation of the daily reservation permit shall be carried by the trail user while on the trail, and be available for inspection by authorized Departmental personnel upon request.

.04 Disposition of Proceeds.

The Department shall use the service charges, collected under Regulation .03C of this chapter, to promote use of ORVs by:

  1. Identifying and posting ORV trails for use;
  2. Acquiring, developing, and managing ORV trails; and
  3. Patrolling and maintaining ORV trails.

.05 ORV Standards.

  1. An ORV may not be operated on Departmental lands unless it conforms to applicable State laws and regulations relating to registration, operation, and inspection requirements, and is equipped with:

(1) At least one headlight and one red tail light that are operational between sundown and sunrise; and

(2) A muffler or other effective noise suppression system in good working order that is:

(a) In constant operation,

(b) Maintained and operated in a manner to prevent excessive or unusual noise caused by an ORV not in compliance with this chapter.

  1. Equipment for Riders.

(1) Headgear. An individual may not operate or ride an ORV unless the individual is wearing protective headgear that meets the requirements of COMAR 11.13.05.02.

(2) Eye Protection or Windscreen. An individual may not operate an ORV unless an eye-protective device or a windscreen is used that is of a type that is in compliance with COMAR 11.13.05.03.

  1. Three-wheel vehicles are prohibited from use on a State ORV trail unless the three-wheel vehicle:

(1) Is registered as an on-road vehicle with the Motor Vehicle Administration; and

(2) Meets the requirements of this chapter.

  1. A commissioned officer representing the Department may determine the acceptability and admissibility of an ORV on Departmental lands.

.06 Operating Requirements for ORVs on Department Lands.

  1. Operating Requirements.

(1) Snowmobiles may be operated only on ORV trails designated for snowmobile use.

(2) A snowmobile may be used on trails designated for its use from December 15 through March 15 of each year, except for certain trails which may be closed to facilitate hunting activity during firearms season or other seasonal special events.

(3) The manager may open or close trails at any time of the year based upon consideration of overall physical, environmental, and recreational use for:

(a) Removing trail hazards;

(b) Conducting educational programs, safety programs, or special events; or

(c) Using snowmobile trails when snow conditions warrant.

(4) A snowmobile ORV trail may be closed at any time by the manager when one or more of the following conditions occur on the trail:

(a) Insufficient snow;

(b) Dangerous or defective conditions; or

(c) Use that may:

(i) Threaten or harm wildlife, or

(ii) Conflict with other recreational uses.

  1. Exceptions to the restrictions set forth in §A of this regulation may be made by the Secretary.
  2. An individual may not operate an ORV on ORV trails:

(1) In a reckless, careless, or negligent manner;

(2) In a manner that disregards the rights or safety of an individual or property;

(3) While under the influence of alcohol or drugs;

(4) In a manner which causes damage to property, wildlife, vegetative resources, or individuals;

(5) In a manner to cause or permit the obstruction of traffic by unnecessary parking or stopping; or

(6) In an area not designated by this chapter.

  1. Closings. A restricted area of operation may be posted at any time by the Department against public entry of the area for the protection of the environment or visitors and during:

(1) Periods of construction, maintenance, or adverse road conditions;

(2) Periods of forest operations or high fire hazard; or

(3) Hunting seasons or other special events.

  1. An ORV is subject to the provisions of other applicable Department regulations.
  2. An individual shall obey any reasonable or lawful order of a commissioned officer in connection with the use or operation of an ORV.

.07 Reporting Accidents.

  1. The operator of an ORV involved in an accident shall contact the Department Communications Center as listed on the online confirmation if the vehicle is in an accident which involves death or injury of an individual.
  2. The operator of an ORV involved in an accident shall provide the following information to the Department Communication Center:

(1) Registration number of the ORV or vehicles involved;

(2) Location of the accident;

(3) Date and time of the accident;

(4) Weather conditions at the time of the accident;

(5) Name, address, and age of the:

(a) Individual submitting the report;

(b) Owners of the ORV and other property involved;

(c) Operators of any ORV involved; and

(d) Any fatalities or injuries;

(6) Description of damage to property or animal, and estimated cost of repairs;

(7) Nature and extent of injury to an individual;

(8) Description of the accident; and

(9) Names and addresses of known witnesses.

.08 Noise Level Limits and Enforcement Schedules.

  1. Exception. This regulation does not apply to devices used solely for the purpose of warning, protecting, or alerting the public of the existence of an emergency situation.
  2. Snowmobiles.

(1) An individual may not operate a snowmobile on Department lands that produces a maximum noise exceeding the noise level limits set forth in §B(2) of this regulation, measured at a distance not less than 50 feet from the point of operation under test procedures established by the SAE.

(2) Noise level limits and the effective dates for enforcement are:

Vehicle Date of Manufacture Maximum Sound Level at
50 Feet (as tested by SAE
J331(a) or equivalent)
Snowmobiles Before July 1, 1976 84 dB(A)
After July 1, 1976 78 dB(A)
  1. Motorcycles and Other ORVs.

(1) An individual may not operate a motorcycle or other ORV on Department lands that produces a maximum noise exceeding the noise level limits set forth in §C(2) of this regulation, measured at a distance not less than 50 feet from the point of operation under test procedures established by the SAE, ANSI, or ASTM.

(2) Noise level limits and the effective dates for enforcement are:

Vehicle Date of Manufacture Maximum Sound Level at
50 Feet (as tested by SAE
J331(a) or equivalent)
Motorcycles and
Other ORV’s
Before July 1, 1976 86 dB(A)
After July 1, 1976 84 dB(A)

.09 Violations.

An individual who violates any provision of this chapter is subject to the provisions of Natural Resources Article, §5-1301, Annotated Code of Maryland, in addition to any penalties under Criminal Law Article, §6-405, Annotated Code of Maryland.

.10 ORV Trail Designation Procedure.

  1. ORV trails are generally described in this regulation and identified on the location maps in Regulation .12 of this chapter.
  2. Before acquiring or designating a trail or road for off-road use, the Department shall:

(1) Give public notice of the proposed new trail or road;

(2) Collect public comment; and

(3) Place signs on designated ORV trails.

.11 Designated Trails.

  1. The following areas are designated ORV trails.
  2. Garrett State Forest in Garrett County.

(1) The trails listed in this regulation may only be used in accordance with this regulation.

(2) Piney Mountain Trail (Map Number 1)

(a) The Piney Mountain Trail beginning at the Sang Run-Cranesville Road and ending at the intersection of the Piney Mountain Road and the unnamed dirt road may be used by:

(i) Snowmobiles from December 15 through April 15, except during deer firearms season; and

(ii) Two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles year-round and during the deer firearms season.

(b) The western half of the loop may be used by snowmobiles only, and may not be used by any motorized wheeled vehicle.

(3) Snaggy Mountain Trail (Map Number 2).

(a) That portion of Snaggy Mountain Trail beginning at Cranesville Road and running south along Snaggy Mountain Road/Hutton-Switch Road to the bridge at the head of Herrington Lake may be used by:

(i) Snowmobiles from December 15 through April 15, except during deer firearm season; and

(ii) Two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles year-round and during the deer firearms season.

(b) That portion of Snaggy Mountain Trail forming the eastern side of the northern loop beginning and ending at the points where the loop leaves the part of the trail running along Snaggy Mountain Road/Hutton-Switch Road, the southern portion of the trail beginning at the bridge at the head of Herrington Lake to the trail’s end, and the trail connecting at midway the northern loop to the southern portion of the trail may only be used by snowmobiles and may not be used by any motorized wheeled vehicle.

  1. Potomac State Forest in Garrett County.

(1) The trails described in this section may only be used in accordance with this regulation.

(2) Wallman/Laurel Run Trail (Map Number 3).

(a) The northern portion of Wallman/Laurel Run Trail beginning at the western boundary of the forest at Rileys Spring Branch and running eastward toward the Potomac River along Laurel Run to the parking lot at the end of the road may be used by:

(i) Snowmobiles from December 15 through April 15, except during the deer firearms season; and

(ii) Two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles year-round and during the deer firearms season.

(b) The eastern portion of the Wallman/Laurel Run Trail beginning at the western boundary of the forest at Rileys Spring Branch and running southward along Wallman Road to the parking lot at the end of the Wallman Road may be used by:

(i) Snowmobiles from December 15 through April 15, except during the firearms season; and

(ii) Two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles year-round and during the deer firearms season.

(c) The western portion of the Wallman/Laurel Run Trail beginning where it leaves the eastern portion of the trail near the dirt access road identified as the Loop Road Snowmobile Trail, and running south on and along the access road to the point where the trail ends when it intersects with the southern portion of the trail described in §C(2)(d) of this regulation and the center trail connecting the western and eastern portions which follow the access road may:

(i) Be used only by snowmobiles from December 15 through April 15, except during the deer firearms season; and

(ii) Not be used by any ORVs for the remainder of the year.

(d) The southern portion of the Wallman/Laurel Run Trail beginning where it intersects with the western portion of the trail at the Loop Road Snowmobile Trail and running southward to its intersection with the eastern portion may be used only by snowmobiles, and may not be used by any motorized wheeled vehicle.

(3) Backbone Mountain Trail (Map Number 4).

(a) That portion of Backbone Mountain Trail beginning near the intersection of Maryland Route 135 and Maryland Route 38 and running northeast to the Juvenile Services Boy’s Camp may only be used by snowmobiles, and may not be used by any wheeled vehicle excepting that portion of the trail that runs along the CCC Camp Road, which is open to two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles year-round and during the deer firearms season.

(b) That portion of Backbone Mountain Trail beginning near the intersection of Swanton Hill Road and Maryland Route 135 and running northeast along the Burkholder Trail to the Juvenile Services Boy’s Camp may be used by:

(i) Snowmobiles from December 15 through April 15, except during deer firearms season; and

(ii) Two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles year-round and during the deer firearms season.

  1. Savage River State Forest in Garrett County.

(1) The trails described in this section may only be used by the ORVs indicated.

(2) Meadow Mountain Trail (Maps Number 7, 8, 9, and 10).

(a) The northern portion of Meadow Mountain Trail beginning at and running along East Shale Road (approximately 1/4 mile south of US Route 68) southward to the point where it intersects New Germany Road may only be used by:

(i) Snowmobiles from December 15 through April 15, except during the deer firearms season; and

(ii) Two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles during the remainder of the year and during the deer firearms season.

(b) The portion of Meadow Mountain Trail beginning on the southwest side of New Germany Road and running south to Frank Brenneman Road may only be used by snowmobiles, and may not be used by a motorized wheeled vehicle.

(c) The southern portion of Meadow Mountain Trail beginning at the intersection of the Thayerville fire tower road and the State park road and running in a northeasterly direction and ending on Compartment 77 may be used by snowmobiles, and may not be used by a motorized wheeled vehicle.

(3) A snowmobile may be unloaded either at Deep Creek Lake State Park parking lots or the New Germany State Park/Savage River State Forest maintenance area parking lot if the snowmobile is driven directly to Meadow Mountain Trail on the designated access trails provided.

(4) Margraff Plantation Trail (Map Number 5) may be used only by:

(a) A snowmobile from December 15 through April 15;

(b) Two-wheel and four-wheel ORVs from July 15 through the beginning of deer bow season; and

(c) Any vehicle registered with the Motor Vehicle Administration as a licensed motor vehicle for on-road use may use the Trail at any time.

(5) Negro Mountain Trail (Map Number 6) coincides with portions of the forest access roads through compartments and may be used only by snowmobiles from December 15 through April 15, and may not be used by any ORV for the remainder of the year, except as provided under Regulation .06A(3)(b) of this chapter.

(6) St. John’s Rock-Red Dog Road Trail Map Number 11may be used only by:

(a) A snowmobile from December 15 through April 15;

(b) Two-wheel and four-wheel ORVs from April 16 through the beginning of the spring turkey season, and from the end of the spring turkey season through the beginning of the deer bow season;

(c) No more than 15 ORVs per day and a daily reservation permit must be obtained prior to using the Trail; and

(d) Any vehicle registered with the Motor Vehicle Administration as a licensed motor vehicle for on-road use may use the Trail at any time.

  1. Deep Creek Lake Natural Resources Management Area.

(1) The frozen lake surface may be used only by snowmobiles.

(2) Access to the lake surface may occur only at:

(a) A designated parking area at Deep Creek Lake State Park; or

(b) If permission has been obtained from the permittee, a buffer strip use permit site.

(3) Snowmobile operators use the lake surface at their own risk. The Department makes no assurances regarding the safety of:

(a) Operating a snowmobile on Deep Creek Lake; or

(b) The ice conditions.

  1. ORV trail status will be made public on the Department’s website.

.12 Official Maps.

Map 1 — Garrett State Forest, Piney Mountain Trail, Garrett County, MD — see Map 1.

Map 2 — Garrett State Forest, Snaggy Mountain Trail, Garrett County, MD — see Map 2.

Map 3 — Potomac State Forest, Wallman/Laurel Run Trail, Garrett County, MD — see Map 3.

Map 4 — Potomac State Forest, Backbone Mountain Trail, Garrett County, MD — see Map 4.

Map 5 — Savage River State Forest, Margraff Plantation Trail, Garrett County, MD — see Map 5.

Map 6 — Savage River State Forest, Negro Mountain Trail, Garrett County, MD — see Map 6.

Maps 7, 8, 9, 10 — Savage River State Forest, Meadow Mountain Trail, Garrett County, MD — see Maps 7, 8, 9, 10.

Map 11 — Savage River State Forest, St. John’s Rock/Red Dog Road Trail, Garrett County, MD — see Map 11.

Click here for all Maps.

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Administrative History

Effective date: December 25, 1974 (1:6 Md. R. 279)

Regulation .03A, B amended effective July 1, 1976 (3:11 Md. R. 590)

Regulations .03B, .07A amended effective January 5, 1977 (4:1 Md. R. 17)

Regulation .07B amended effective July 1, 1976 (3:11 Md. R. 590)

Regulations .09 and .10 adopted effective July 1, 1976 (3:11 Md. R. 590)

——————

Chapter revised effective November 3, 1986 (13:22 Md. R. 2395)

——————

Regulations .01—.11 repealed and new Regulations .01—.12 adopted effective October 4, 1999 (26:20 Md. R. 1544)

Regulation .01C, D amended effective December 22, 2014 (41:25 Md. R. 1477)

Regulation .02B amended effective December 22, 2014 (41:25 Md. R. 1477)

Regulation .03 amended effective December 22, 2014 (41:25 Md. R. 1477)

Regulation .04 amended effective December 22, 2014 (41:25 Md. R. 1477)

Regulation .05 amended effective December 22, 2014 (41:25 Md. R. 1477)

Regulation .06 amended effective December 22, 2014 (41:25 Md. R. 1477)

Regulation .07 amended effective December 22, 2014 (41:25 Md. R. 1477)

Regulation .10 amended effective December 22, 2014 (41:25 Md. R. 1477)

Regulation .11 amended effective December 22, 2014 (41:25 Md. R. 1477)

Regulation .11G adopted effective June 7, 2004 (31:11 Md. R. 856)

Regulation .12 amended effective December 22, 2014 (41:25 Md. R. 1477)