Las Cruces City Council recently made changes to a municipal ordinance that will soon allow some – but not all – off-highway motor vehicles to be permitted on city roads.
The new City ordinance, which takes effect March 13, will allow some utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), commonly called “side-by-sides,” on municipal roads if the vehicle and operator meet specific requirements:
- The vehicle must have a 17-character vehicle identification number.
- UTVs must have one or more headlights and one or more taillight that complies with the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Act (OHMVA).
- The vehicle must have brakes, mirrors, and a non-modified muffler.
- The operator must have a valid driver’s license as required under the Motor Vehicle Code or a permit as required under OHMVA.
- The vehicle must be insured, or its operator must have evidence of financial responsibility in accordance with New Mexico state law.
- The vehicle must have a windshield that complies with OHMVA or the operator must use proper eye protection.
- Operators and passengers under 18 must wear a safety helmet that complies with OHMVA.
- The vehicle must be registered with the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division and the validation sticker or license plate must be properly affixed to the UTV.
- The vehicle must have a special off-highway motor vehicle paved road use license plate indicating that the operator intends to use it on paved streets in accordance with provisions of the OHMVA.
In addition, UTV operators must obey all traffic laws and speed limits not to exceed 45 MPH.
Although the City ordinance will allow UTVs on City roadways, it does not permit UTVs on State roads, highways or Interstate freeways. In general, the law prohibits UTVs from any highway with an off-ramp to exit the roadway. More specifically, UTVs are prohibited from using I-10, I-25, Highway 70, Main Street from I-25 to Picacho Avenue, Picacho Avenue west to the Rio Grande bridge, Valley Drive from Avenida de Mesilla north, and Avenida de Mesilla from Valley Drive west to Mesilla.
All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are still prohibited on Las Cruces roadways. In general, ATVs have handlebar-type steering control and a seat that’s designed to be straddled by the operator.