In Texas, can I ride my four-wheeler in my backyard? Here’s what the law says

Driving an all-terrain vehicle across the Texas wilderness can be fun, but what about in your backyard?

That’s exactly the question a poster asked in a White Settlement community Facebook group. The post asked if it was legal for an ATV, also known as a four-wheeler, to be driven around their backyard.

“I’ve searched all of city of w.s (White Settlement) code compliance and cannot find anything on 4 wheelers being ridden in my backyard, I know not allowed on streets but what about our own property?” the poster asked.

A helpful commenter responded: “We’ve been riding motor cycles & Go-Karts for years on our property and some trails,with No Problems. We Just Used common sense! HAVE Fun!”

When it comes to where Texans can drive off-road vehicles like ATVs, it gets tricky. Here’s what we know:

Can you drive an ATV on public roads in Texas?

No, driving an ATV on public roads in Texas is illegal, according to Texas Transportation Code.

An ATV is considered an off-highway vehicle given its design, which the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles defines as:

  • Having a seat or seats for the rider and at least one passenger

  • Having three or more tires

  • Not being more than 50 inches wide

  • Designed for off-highway use

  • Not designed for farm or lawn care by the manufacturer

The only way an ATV can be driven on public roads is if it is:

  • Owned and operated by a state, county or local municipality for use on public beaches to maintain safety

  • Operated by a farmer or rancher during the daytime, driven under 25 mph and used for agricultural means

  • Operated by a public utility worker during the daytime and driven under 25 mph

  • Operated by a law enforcement officer or other emergency personnel

Can you drive an ATV in your own backyard?

Technically, yes.

Texans are free to drive an ATV on their own private property, in addition to other off-road vehicles. However, if you want to drive an ATV on public lands it’ll cost you.

An off-road vehicle or “OHV” decal is required to drive an ATV on public land, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. The decals cost $16 a piece and are valid from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 of the following year.

To buy a OHV decal, Texans can: