Correction to “Commissioners Needlessly Chafing Constituents?”

Last night I received an email from a source who wishes to remain anonymous, stating (very politely) that I was dead wrong in my recent Salida Citizen article, “Commissioners Needlessly Chafing Constituents?

The email stated:

“… contrary to your statement that OHVs are ‘motor vehicles’ under Colorado law, I thought I’d point out that except for a few enforcements statutes like vehicular homicide and DUI, OHVs are NOT considered ‘motor vehicles’ under Colorado law per CRS 42-1-102(58) since they are not designed primarily for travel on public highways. …County Commissioners have authority to open roads to OHVs pursuant to state statute CRS 33-14.5-108(1)(f). Even though Parks won’t enforce on County roads, the County can require that anyone operating an OHV on a County road be registered with Parks…”

I did indeed read the above-mentioned statutes while researching my article, but, upon reading them again, I see that I did a poor job of interpreting them. Thus, my article’s premise — that an OHV is defined by Colorado state law as a “motor vehicle” — is a false premise.

The last thing I want to do is disseminate incorrect information, so I’m not too happy with myself this morning. I’m eating crow for breakfast.

The Citizen is happy to provide a forum for comments and discussion. Please be civil, truthful, and relevant. Please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. Real names are appreciated.

2 Responses to “Correction to “Commissioners Needlessly Chafing Constituents?””

  1. Bill Hudson

    We Americans are pretty much in agreement about certain things. People who drive 11,000-pound trucks on public roads, for example, ought to pass a driving test, and ought to have a blood alcohol level below 0.08 percent, and ought to have liability insurance; we pretty much agree on that kind of thing.

    One of the things we DON'T always agree on is how to deal with Off-Highway Vehicles: OHVs... a.k.a. ATVs, Powersports Vehicles.

    Our politicians (and their attorneys) are charged — first and foremost — with the task of protecting our health, safety and welfare (or at least, that's what we often assume.) But they also want to promote other agendas: economic development, jobs, growth, tourism, corporate profits, affordable health care.

    And they want to allow us to "have fun." What was that famous wordage?

    "...that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Motorized Recreational Activities"?

    In an effort to accommodate good ole red-blooded American fun while protecting our health, safety, welfare and economic growth, the state of Colorado made a well-meaning but confusing attempt to define a "motor vehicle" as something that was "designed" to operate on public roads. To wit, from the Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 42, Definitions:

    (58) "Motor vehicle" means any self-propelled vehicle which is designed primarily for travel on the public highways and which is generally and commonly used to transport persons and property over the public highways, but the term does not include motorized bicycles as defined in paragraph (b) of subsection (59) of this section, wheelchairs as defined by subsection (113) of this section, or vehicles moved solely by human power. "Motor vehicle" includes a neighborhood electric vehicle operated pursuant to section 42-4-111(1) (aa). For the purposes of the offenses described in sections 42-2-128, 42-4-1301, and 42-4-1401 for farm tractors and off-highway vehicles, as defined in section 33-14.5-101(3), C.R.S., operated on streets and highways, "motor vehicle" includes a farm tractor or an off-highway vehicle which is not otherwise classified as a motor vehicle.

    (63) "Off-highway vehicle" shall have the same meaning as set forth in section 33-14.5-101(3), C.R.S.

    One can easily see how an investigative writer like Ms. Green might find this language misleading.

    Then we go to CRS, Title 33:

    (3) "Off-highway vehicle" means any self-propelled vehicle which is designed to travel on wheels or tracks in contact with the ground, which is designed primarily for use off of the public highways, and which is generally and commonly used to transport persons for recreational purposes. "Off-highway vehicle" does not include the following:

    (a) Vehicles designed and used primarily for travel on, over, or in the water;
    (b) Snowmobiles;
    (c) Military vehicles;
    (d) Golf carts;
    (e) Vehicles designed and used to carry disabled persons;
    (f) Vehicles designed and used specifically for agricultural, logging, or mining purposes; or
    (g) Vehicles registered pursuant to article 3 of title 42, C.R.S.

    TRANSLATION: An OHV (ATV, Powersports Vehicle) is, by definition, NOT designed to operate on public roads.

    Our County politicians are relying upon the wisdom of Colorado Parks regulations — not DMV regulations — to define certain aspects of OHV use. Here's an interesting piece of legal language.

    b. Where the State, the United States, or any agency thereof, has designated any public street, road, or highway of this state open to off-highway vehicles or where local political subdivisions have authorized by ordinance or resolution the establishment of off-highway vehicle routes to permit the operation of off-highway vehicles on city streets or county roads pursuant to the authority granted in C.R.S. 33-14.5-108(1), no person under the age of ten years may operate an off-highway vehicle on such public street, road, or highway of this state or on such city street or county road.

    It appears that Colorado Parks law requires that I be older than nine years old before I can drive a 400-pound ATV at 30 MPH down a public road. Another Colorado law requires that my driver's license be revoked if I kill someone with that same 400-pound ATV.

    Fortunately, the 2005 Chaffee County law that allows OHV use on certain county roads requires the operator to be 16 years of age and in possession of a valid driver's license. and carry at least the minimum liability insurance as a regular motor vehicle.

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  2. Billy Carlisle

    Thank you for all the valuable comments and facts about OHVs. I have heard that there are county jurisdictions around the country where OHV use is more common and accepted. I am trusting that we will look to these other municipalities for good rules that provide reasonable oversight. I wish I had some time to devote to this research. Since I don't have time I am reading what everyone is writing here with interest. Thank you for your collective efforts.

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