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  • Special Vehicles in Ohio

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    Many Ohioans either own or are interested in buying a vehicle other than a car or motorcycle. So, let's take a look at some of these other types of transportation and fun.

    Specifically, we'll examine snowmobiles, all-purpose vehicles (APVs), and off-highway motorcycles (OHMs).

    Note that if you're interested in information about boats, recreational vehicles, or custom-built vehicles, we have separate sections covering them.

    Definitions

    It's confusing to determine what these classifications mean, so we'll examine how Ohio lawmakers define the categories.

    Snowmobiles

    Snowmobiles are categorized as self-propelled vehicles that are steered by skis, caterpillar treads, or runners, and are meant to be used mostly on ice or snow.

    All-Purpose Vehicles

    An APV is defined as a self-propelled vehicle that is steered by wheels or caterpillar treads, and is designed primarily for cross-country travel on land or water.

    While this definition is not meant to include utility vehicles or even things like golf carts, it does include all-terrain vehicles, trail bikes, mini-bikes, all-season vehicles, or vehicles that operate on a cushion of air.

    Off-Highway Motorcycles

    An OHM is classified as a bike that is meant to be used primarily on land, other than a highway or street.

    Licensing

    To operate an APV, OHM, or snowmobile on the state's public land or waterways, you'll need to have a current operator, probationary, or commercial driver's license.

    If you're under 16 years old, you'll also need to have a licensed driver who is at least 18 years old with you.

    The state allows unlicensed riders younger than 16 years old to use these vehicles on state-controlled land, if they are with a currently-licensed parent or guardian who is over 18 years old.

    Titling and Registration

    All the specialty vehicles we've discussed will need to be registered. However, only APV and OHM owners will need to have a title, too. And, the title must come first.

    If you bought an APV or OHM from a dealer, the title must be in your name. The dealer has up to 30 days to give you the title. If you bought the vehicle from a private seller, the seller will need to assign it to you by signing the back of the title. You'll then need to apply for a new title at a title office for a $15.00 fee.

    Once you've received your title, you must register your APV, OHM, or snowmobile at a branch office.

    Registration certificates are valid for 3 years, and will expire on December 31 of the last year. The registration fee is $34.75. You may renew your registration no sooner than 90 days before its expiration date.

    The registration comes with an alphanumerical decal that must be affixed to the vehicle in an easily-visible location.

    Operating Rules

    Anyone operating any of these specialty vehicles must follow the applicable state motor vehicle driving laws. You can expect to be punished for violating the rules, too. The penalties for disobeying registration, operating, or equipment requirements are similar to those for cars or motorcycles.

    Also, for breaking rules specific to APVs, OMVs, or snowmobiles, you may be fined as well as have your registration suspended.

    For more complete information regarding the rules governing these specialty vehicles, consult Chapter 4519 of the Ohio Revised Code.

    Out-of-State Permits

    If you live outside the state but want to operate an APV, OMV, or snowmobile on Ohio's public land or waterways, you'll have to apply for a temporary permit if your state doesn't have similar registration requirements to ours.

    To apply for the permit, you'll need to visit a deputy registrar's office. The permit is valid for up to 1 year. You'll have to pay a $14.75 registration fee. Make sure to keep the permit handy.

    If you're not sure how your state's registration laws compare to ours, you can call the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles at (614) 752-5000 to find out. Or, you can call or visit a deputy registrar's branch.

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