Tire tracks at a Spring Ridge Middle School ball field

St. Mary’s Sheriff reminds residents about off-road vehicle rules

News Release, St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office

The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office reminds the public that unregistered motorcycles, dirt bikes, golf carts, off-road and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are not permitted on roadways and private property, by the Maryland Transportation Article.

Riding off-road vehicles in residential and prohibited areas puts yourself and others at risk of a collision, which could result in personal injury or death. Wear a helmet and ride in permitted off-road areas. 

ATVs may only be operated on private property – and only with the permission of the property owner.

A dirt biker at Lancaster Park

Off-road vehicles, golf carts, and ATVs may not be operated on:

  • Public roadways
  • Bicycle lanes
  • Three Notch Trail
  • Sidewalks
  • Power lines or utility right-of-ways
  • St. Mary’s County parks

Any vehicle that is not registered in the state of Maryland may not be driven on public highways.

Off-road vehicles are for use on private property only, with the permission of the owner/agent. According to Maryland Vehicle Law, they cannot be operated on public sidewalks, public roads, streets or highways.

In addition to any other traffic violations observed, the following is a list of charges that an operator faces if observed operating an off-road vehicle in violation of the law:

13-402 Driving unregistered motor vehicle: $290

16-101a (Driving, Attempting to Drive) a motor vehicle on a highway without required license and authorization: Must Appear Citation and five points assessed on a license

16-101b Operating a (moped, motor scooter) on the highway without required license or permit:

Must Appear Citation and five points … A “motor assisted” and “motor driven” moped or scooter can be operated on the highway if the operator has a valid license or a moped permit obtained through the MVA

17-107 Driving Uninsured Vehicle: Must Appear Citation and five points

* Golf carts are permitted to be operated on a St. Mary’s County highway only in the community of Golden Beach/Patuxent Knolls with the following conditions:

(A) A person who operates a golf cart on a county highway in the community of Golden Beach Patuxent Knolls, St. Mary’s County without registration as authorized under 13-402 (C)(13) of this article:

(1) May Operate the golf cart only:

(I) On a county highway on which the maximum posted speed limit does not exceed

35 miles per hour;

(II) Between dawn and dusk; and

(III) If the golf cart is equipped with lighting devices as required by the administration

(2) Shall keep the golf cart as far to the right of the roadway as feasible; and

(3) Shall possess a valid driver’s license

An individual issued a Must Appear Citation will receive a court date in the mail and must see the judge; there is no preset fine.

Tire tracks at a Spring Ridge Middle School ball field

The Sheriff’s Office would like to add the following safety tips when operating off-road vehicles:

1. Ride with a partner or friend.

2. Let someone know where you are riding and when you are expected to return.

3. Familiarize yourself with the motor vehicle you are operating.

4. Operate the vehicle in an ATV park or areas designated for off-road vehicles and ATVs

* An individual driving an off-road vehicle in violation of the Maryland Transportation Article may face the consequence of having the vehicle towed and stored by the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office.


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David M. Higgins II

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in Digital Marketing, eventually leading him back to his passion. David started The Southern Maryland Chronicle in December 2017 and has grown it to become the #1 news source in Southern Maryland.

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