Modes of Transportation – In an All-Terrain Vehicle

All-Terrain Vehicles: What the Law Says

When you operate an all-terrain vehicle, you must obey the Act respecting off-highway vehicles, the regulations made under that Act, and some provisions of the Highway Safety Code.

In brief

All-terrain vehicles include quad bikes, recreational off-road vehicles, trail bikes and other motorized all-terrain vehicles:

  • quad bikes are four-wheel motorized all-terrain vehicles equipped with a straddle seat and handlebars (also called four-wheelers)
  • recreational off-road vehicles are four-wheel motorized all-terrain vehicles equipped with one or more non-straddle seats, a steering wheel, pedals and a protective structure—and all of whose wheels are driving wheels and whose net mass does not exceed 450 kg in the case of single-seat vehicles and 750 kg in the case of multi-seat vehicles (also called side-by-side vehicles (SSV) or utility task vehicles (UTV))
  • trail bikes are light motorcycles whose suspension system and tires are designed for use on all types of terrain (these include dirt bikes, enduro motorcycles and motocross bikes)
  • other motorized all-terrain vehicles are any all-terrain vehicles not included in the above categories that have 3 or more wheels and handlebars, are designed to be straddled and whose net weight does not exceed 600 kg

Age-related conditions and restrictions

  • You must be at least 16 years old to drive an all-terrain vehicle, regardless of where you drive it.
  • If you are 16 or 17, you must have a certificate of competence and knowledgeThis document attests that a person under 18 years of age has the competence and knowledge required to operate an off-road vehicle..
  • To operate a recreational off-road vehicle, or to carry a passenger on a quad bike that has been modified by the addition of an add-on seat, you must be at least 18 years old.

To obtain a certificate of competence and knowledge

The certificate is issued upon successful completion of a mandatory course.

  • For recreational off-road vehicles
    A certificate of competence and knowledge is not required to drive a recreational off-road vehicle because you can only drive that type of vehicle if you are 18 or older.

Driver's licence

As soon as you must cross a highway, a road or any other public roadway, you must hold a valid driver’s licence or probationary licence of any class, or hold a valid learner’s licence and abide by its conditions.

Driving on public roadways

Driving on public roads is prohibited, other than in the few exceptional cases provided for by law.

You may cross a public road or drive on it only if:

  • a road sign allows you to do so
  • you hold a valid driver’s licence or probationary licence, or you hold a valid learner’s licence and abide by its conditions (that you be accompanied and not carry passengers)

Vehicle Registration

You must register your all-terrain vehicle, even if it is only used on designated trails.

The licence plate must be affixed to the all-terrain vehicle.

Refer to our page on registering an all-terrain vehicle for information on the steps to follow.


Just because your vehicle is registered doesn’t mean you are covered in the event of an accident

If you have an accident that doesn’t involve an automobile (if you run into a tree, for example), you are not covered by the SAAQ for your injuries. The fact that you paid the registration fees for your off-road vehicle doesn’t change that fact.

However, if you have an accident involving an automobile or any other vehicle operating on a public roadway, you may receive compensation for your injuries. For more information, see the section on the automobile insurance plan.

Civil liability insurance is mandatory!

You must hold private civil liability insurance for at least $500,000 to ensure compensation for any bodily injury or property damage caused by your vehicle.

Proof of insurance may be requested by a police officer, trail patrol officer or provincial officer. You must always have your proof of insurance with you; otherwise, you face a fine.

Trail permits

A valid trail permit is required if you wish to drive your all-terrain vehicle on trails maintained by off-road vehicle clubs.

Trail permits are sold by the clubs in question. They can be bought in a number of locations, including at dealerships and in gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants and other stores and services with easy access to the trails.

Offences committed under the Highway Safety Code or the Act respecting off-highway vehicles

Offenders face:

  • fines
  • demerit points

Impaired Driving

Driving an all-terrain vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs or medication is prohibited. The Criminal Code also applies to the operation of off-road vehicles.

If you commit an offence under the Highway Safety Code on a public road or anywhere else that law applies, the same penalties apply as for an impaired driving offence while at the wheel of any other type of motorized vehicle.

Documents to always have with you

When operating an off-road vehicle, you must always have the following with you:

  • proof of civil liability insurance
  • the vehicle's registration certificate
  • a document that can attest to your age
  • a valid driver’s licence (if you must drive on, or cross, a public roadway)
  • your certificate of competence and knowledge, if applicable

Mandatory equipment

For you and any passengers

  • A helmet
    The driver and any passengers on an all-terrain vehicle must wear a protective helmet that complies with at least one of the following manufacturing standards:
    • DOT FMVSS 218 (United States Department of Transportation)
    • Snell Memorial Foundation
    • ECE Regulation 22 (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe)
    • CAN-3-D230 (Canadian Standards Association)
    • Specifications for Protective Headgear for Vehicular User Z90.1 (American National Standards Institute)
    • British Standards Institute
  • Protective goggles, if the helmet does not have a visor
  • Closed footwear (boots or shoes)
  • Any other equipment prescribed by regulation

For your vehicle

  • A white headlight
  • A red taillight
  • A red rear brake light
  • A rear-view mirror firmly attached to the left side of the vehicle
  • An exhaust system
  • A braking system
  • A speedometer
  • Any other equipment determined by regulation

Safety and traffic rules

Carrying Passengers

You can carry a passenger on an all-terrain vehicle provided:

  • the vehicle is designed to carry two or more people, or
  • you are at least 18 years old and hold a certificate of competence and knowledge, in the case of a quad bike that has been modified to include an add-on seat

Speed Limits for an All-terrain Vehicle

The speed limit is 50 km/h, unless otherwise indicated.

Be Visible

Keep your headlights on at all times in order to help other drivers see you.

Useful information

Avoid making a lot of noise near populated areas

As you near populated areas, slow down so as to make less noise. Be especially careful at night (in areas where driving at night is allowed).