Modes of Transportation – In an All-Terrain Vehicle

All-Terrain Vehicles: What the Law Says

When you operate an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), whether a quad bike, a trail bike or a recreational off-road 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

According to the Act respecting off-highway vehicles, a recreational off-highway (or “off-road”) vehicle is a motorized all-terrain vehicle that is:

“equipped with one or more non-straddle seats, a steering wheel, pedals and a protective structure, 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.”

The Act defines a quad bike as a four-wheel vehicle “equipped with a straddle seat and handlebars.”

A trail bike is a light motorcycle whose suspension system and tires are designed for use on all types of terrain.

Age-related conditions and restrictions

  • To drive an ATV—other than a recreational off-road vehicle—on trails only, you must be at least 16 years old.
  • To operate a quad bike that has been modified by the addition of an add-on seat or a recreational off-road vehicle, you must be at least 18 years old.
  • To drive an ATV if you are 16 or 17 years old, you must have a certificate of competence and knowledge.

How to obtain a certificate of competence

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

For trail bikes

Refer to the website of the Fédération québécoise des motos hors route.

For quad bikes(ATVs, etc)

Refer to the website of the Fédération québécoise des clubs quads.

For recreational off-road vehicles

No certificate of competence and knowledge is required to operate a recreational off-road vehicle, since this type of vehicle may only be operated by those aged 18 or older.

Driver's licence

In order to cross a highway, a road or any other public roadway, you must hold a valid driver's licence or probationary licence of any class.


Driving on public roadways

You can cross a public roadway, or drive on it over a maximum distance of 1 km (except in rare cases provided for by law), provided:

  • doing so is permitted by a road sign or signal
  • you hold a valid driver's licence


You must register your ATV.

Learn how to register an ATV.


Just because the vehicle is registered does not 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 ATV 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 be covered for at least $500,000. Your civil liability policy will provide compensation should you sustain bodily injury or property damage, or should you cause bodily injury or property damage to others.

Proof of insurance may be requested by a police officer, trail patrol officer or provincial officer. You must be able to show such proof; otherwise, you face a $250 fine.

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

Offenders face:

Driving an ATV while impaired

Operating an ATV while impaired by alcohol, drugs or medication is an offence subject to the same penalties as any impaired driving offence involving any other type of vehicle.

Documents to always have with you

When operating an ATV, you must always have the following documents with you:

  • proof of civil liability insurance
  • the ATV'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 knowledgeThis document attests that a person under 18 years of age has the competence and knowledge required to operate an off-road vehicle., if applicable

Mandatory equipment

For you and any passengers

For your ATV

  • A white headlight (always on while driving)
  • A red taillight
  • A red brake light at the rear
  • A rearview mirror firmly attached to the left side of the vehicle
  • An exhaust system
  • A braking system
  • A speedometer
  • Any other equipment prescribed by the Act respecting off-highway vehicles.

Basic safety and traffic rules

When driving an ATV, you can carry a passenger provided:

  • you are at least 18 years old
  • a passenger seat has been installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions (certified by a government-accredited agent)

Unless otherwise indicated, the speed limit is:

  • 50 km/h
  • 30 km/h when within 30 metres of a residence, even if no sign to this effect is posted

Driving near populated areas

It is prohibited to drive within 30 metres of:

  • a dwelling
  • a health care facility
  • an area reserved for cultural, educational, recreational or sports activities

In the case of trails created after December 31, 2011, that distance is increased to 100 metres.

Useful information

Avoid making a lot of noise near populated areas

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