Last month, a State Attorney General’s opinion provided some guidance for both operators and government officials about the use of all-terrain and recreational off-road vehicles (ATV/ROV’s) on Bolivar Peninsula beaches.
The opinion, reviewed by local officials, indicated such vehicles could be operated on public beaches – with certain limitations.
Armed with this new interpretation of law, Galveston County Sheriff Freddie Poor instructed his deputies to provide warnings to ATV/ROV operators found violating the law. That “grace period” expires July 20th, and deputies are gearing up for strict enforcement of statutes.
A controversial subject for some years, the operation of ATV/ROV’s on public beaches is generally allowed for persons older than 14 or, if under age 14, under the direct supervision of a parent, guardian, or other adult authorized by the parent or guardian. Drivers are allowed to cross a public roadway at a 90 degree angle, with headlamps and tail lamps illuminated (day or night), yielding to all oncoming traffic.
ATV/ROV’s are not permitted to be operated on any public roadway, which includes road shoulders and ditches, except in very limited circumstances connected with agricultural and utility service activities.
No vehicle, including ATV/ROV’s may be driven on any sand dune along the beach.
Other laws regulating the operation of motor vehicles – including speeding, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, and others, apply to the operation of ATV/ROV’s in all circumstances, even on public beaches.
“We want to do our best to help the public understand laws that apply to operating these kinds of vehicles,” said Sheriff Poor. “Our goal is to make sure the laws are followed and operators drive in a safe manner.”
Starting July 20th, operators found in violation of these and other applicable laws may find themselves facing time in court answering to a traffic ticket.