Senate Bill 1100, that would have increased the Off Highway Vehicle weight to 3,500 lbs passed the Arizona House of Representatives on May 15th 2023 and was transmitted to Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs, where she quickly vetoed the bill. Although we understand her decision is purely political, this is a massive win for the 4×4 community!
If the weight were increased, it would have opened a loophole that would impose laws, regulations, and management decisions meant for OHVs on numerous additional motorized vehicles. Motor vehicles that fall under the definition of OHV must contribute to the Arizona OHV program and are subject to additional state laws that govern the use of roads on federal lands.
According to state law, Off Highway Vehicles must comply with federal Travel Management Rules, and are only permitted to operate on roads on federal lands that are deemed open by the Travel Management Process. Because OHVs are specifically defined in Arizona law, OHV laws do not apply to regular motor vehicles. Therefore, federal Travel Management decisions are unenforceable by local law enforcement on regular motor vehicles.
The thin legal distinction between OHVs and regular motor vehicles is based on the unladen weight, and other factors which include the manufacturers’ intended use of the vehicle. However, state agencies like the Arizona Parks and Trails, who are cooperating agencies with federal land managers during Travel Management Planning, define OHVs inconsistently with state law.
For example, in the Arizona State Parks and Trails, Statewide Motorized and Non-motorized Trails Plan, the agency defined OHV as the following:
“Simply put, any motorized vehicle used to travel over unpaved roads and trails is an off-highway vehicle.”Arizona Trails 2015, A Statewide Motorized and Non-motorized Trails Plan
This definition of OHV was also used by the city of Sedona and the US Forest Service in the Sedona Workgroup OHV report relating to the current crusade against motorized use of roads around Sedona.
This means although you may not operate a UTV, laws and regulations that govern UTV use on federal lands are already applied (but unenforceable) to your car, truck, or SUV. The last thing we need is a state law that criminalizes the use of roads closed by the federal government.
To all of the OHV operators out there, consider not supporting the OHV program and purchasing a motor vehicle instead.