Hunters need to register off-highway vehicles

With Nevada's big game hunting seasons about to start, outdoorsmen are working their way down checklists and giving their gear a thorough once-over. From sleeping bags to tents, from hiking boots to binoculars, and from bows to rifles, everything has to be ready come opening day.

That includes the necessary paperwork, such as a hunting license, a big game tag and the registration for your off-highway vehicle.

Yes, that is correct - registration for your OHV. As of July 1, and with few exceptions, all off-highway vehicles must be registered with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. It all started with the passage of Senate Bill 394 in 2009, which requires "certain owners of off-highway vehicles (OHV) to obtain titles and annual registration decals."

If you want to delve into the legal details, you can find the laws and regulations stemming from SB 394 in Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 490 and Nevada Administrative Code 490.

The first step is to figure out whether your motorized means of conveyance is classified as an OHV. NRS 490 defines the term off-highway vehicle as "a motor vehicle that is designed primarily for off-highway and all-terrain use." Since that is a fairly broad definition, the elected powers that be took the time to narrow it down. The term includes, but is not limited to, an all-terrain vehicle, an all-terrain motorcycle, a dune buggy and a snowmobile. That all seems pretty straightforward until you read the last item on the list: "... any motor vehicle used on public lands for the purpose of recreation."

Maybe it's just me, but that last line seems to broaden the definition of an OHV just a bit and leaves much to interpretation. So perhaps we should look at what an OHV is not. According to NRS 490, the term does not include a motor vehicle designed primarily for use in water or one that is registered by the department of motor vehicles. That eliminates your pickup truck or Jeep - if they are registered.

Exempted from titling and registration are OHVs manufactured before Jan. 1, 1976, those that are owned and operated by a government agency, those used in husbandry and OHVs that are registered in another state and are located in Nevada for less than 60 days. That means if you bring your ATV back from your cabin in Utah and store it, or use it, in Nevada for more than 60 days, the DMV wants your money.

How much money does the DMV want? The fee for first-time registration or annual renewals is $20 per year. Those who are required or choose to obtain a title can expect to pay an additional fee. According to the DMV, the owner of an off-highway vehicle purchased before July 1, 2012, will have one year to complete the registration process. If you purchased your OHV on or after July 1, 2012, you have 30 days.

In an interesting twist, even though the DMV oversees OHV registration, you can't complete the transaction at one of their offices. OHV transactions are completed via the mail or through a licensed OHV dealer. The only exception is when you must bring an OHV to a DMV inspection station if it does not have a vehicle identification number.

The DMV has put together a fairly comprehensive website at outlining Nevada's OHV registration requirement and how the money generated through the process will be used. Also on the website is a link to the list of dealers who can help with your registration needs. There are nine dealers in the Las Vegas Valley and one each in Mesquite and Pahrump.

The bright side is you won't have to wait in line for three or four hours at the DMV. Now you can do it at the OHV dealership, and at least you can shop while you wait.

Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His "In the Outdoors" column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at