Dirt bike in woodsYou know what they say; two things in life are inevitable: death and taxes. Unfortunately, the “taxes” part causes grumbles among OHV users in many states. I’m sure death does, too, but for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll stick to taxes.

Registration requirements for off highway vehicles, and the cost of registration varies from state to state. Off road enthusiasts in the states with stricter requirements are finding frustration in more expensive registration fees and tenser regulations. Let’s take a look at the variance between a few states.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles charges OHV users $52 for initial registration and there again every 2 years for renewal. Although, the state makes no mention of where this money goes and how it is used. Additionally, the California Air Resources Board has also established a set of air quality regulations that off highway vehicles must meet. If a machine is not up to the California OHV standards and is a model year 2003 or newer, it will be issued a red registration sticker and only be eligible to ride seasonally, in regulated areas.

The State of Indiana allows users to register off highway vehicles for a period of 3 years, for just $30 and makes it clear on their website that the purpose of OHV registration is twofold; one to allow law enforcement to track stolen property, thus protecting the owner. And two, to provide a source of revenue for OHV trail maintenance.

States like Utah collect $20.50 annually for OHV registration and make it perfectly clear where the money goes – down to the cent, in fact! The Utah State Parks website lists a breakdown of the fee which primarily goes into trail improvement, with small portions also going to schools, search and rescue and similar government funded activities.

As a California resident, I am amazed to see the transparency of OHV registration fee use in so many states. It is refreshing to see state governments informing their constituents about where their off road fees are going to. Meanwhile, riders here in California are struggling to understand why State Parks are closing, riding is being restricted and fees are going up. So, what’s it like in your state?

While that $30 may seem like an inconvenience at the time, the investment is seemingly worthwhile to me if I know that the funds are being utilized to improve trails and maintain riding areas. However, I also wonder if some states are simply using OHV fees as another way to collect those inevitable taxes.