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Official Opinion 2007-3

Official Opinion 2007-3

July 11, 2007
To: 

Commissioner, Georgia Department of Public Safety

Re: 

All-terrain vehicles operating on the roadways in the State of Georgia are motor vehicles and as such are governed by the Uniform Rules of the Road as set forth in O.C.G.A. § 40-6-1 through 40-6-397.

You have requested my opinion regarding the proper way to charge violations of the traffic laws in regard to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) operating on the roadways of the State of Georgia.

The Uniform Rules of the Road, codified in Chapter 6 of Title 40 of the Georgia Code, generally apply to and govern the “operation of vehicles on [the] highways” of the state. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-3(a). Throughout the Uniform Rules of the Road, specific provisions prohibit certain conduct in the operation of a “vehicle” or, in some more specific cases, in the operation of a “motor vehicle.”

“Vehicle” is defined as “every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(75)(Supp. 2006). “Motor vehicle” is defined as “every vehicle which is self-propelled other than an electric personal assistive mobility device (EPAMD).” O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(33)(Supp. 2006). “All-terrain vehicle” is defined as “any motorized vehicle designed for off-road use which is equipped with three or more low pressure tires and with a seat to be straddled by the operator and with handlebars for steering control.” O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(3)(Supp. 2006). It is thus clear that ATVs are vehicles that are covered by the provisions of the Uniform Rules of the Road. The definitions of both “vehicle” and “motor vehicle” contained in O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(Supp. 2006) are broad definitions and include “all-terrain vehicles,” which are simply a particular kind of vehicle.

Furthermore, as noted above, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-3 provides that the Uniform Rules of the Road apply to the use of “vehicles on [the] highways” of the state. The term “highway” is defined in O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(19)(Supp. 2006) as “the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic.” The term “roadway” is more narrowly defined as “that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.” O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1(53)(Supp. 2006).

Therefore, it is my official opinion that state law provides that all-terrain vehicles operating on the highways of the State of Georgia are governed by the Uniform Rules of the Road as set forth in Chapter 6 of Title 40 of the Georgia Code and operators of those vehicles should be charged accordingly when a violation of that Chapter occurs.

Prepared by:

JOSEPH DROLET
Senior Assistant Attorney General