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The Florida Statutes

The 2018 Florida Statutes

Title XVIII
PUBLIC LANDS AND PROPERTY
Chapter 261
OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE SAFETY AND RECREATION
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CHAPTER 261
CHAPTER 261
OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLE SAFETY AND RECREATION
261.01 Short title.
261.02 Legislative findings and intent.
261.03 Definitions.
261.04 Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Advisory Committee; members; appointment.
261.05 Duties and responsibilities of the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Advisory Committee.
261.06 Functions, duties, and responsibilities of the department.
261.07 Publication and distribution of guidebook; contents.
261.08 Repair, maintenance, and rehabilitation of areas, trails, and lands.
261.09 Contracts and agreements.
261.10 Criteria for recreation areas and trails; limitation on liability.
261.11 Penalties.
261.12 Designated off-highway vehicle funds within the Incidental Trust Fund of the Florida Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
261.20 Operations of off-highway vehicles on public lands; restrictions; safety courses; required equipment; prohibited acts; penalties.
261.01 Short title.This chapter may be cited as the “T. Mark Schmidt Off-Highway Vehicle Safety and Recreation Act.”
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295.
261.02 Legislative findings and intent.
(1) The Legislature finds that off-highway vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in this state and that the use of these vehicles should be controlled and managed to minimize negative effects on the environment, wildlife habitats, native wildlife, and native flora and fauna.
(2) The Legislature declares that effectively managed areas and adequate facilities for the use of off-highway vehicles are compatible with this state’s overall recreation plan and the underlying goal of multiple use.
(3) It is the intent of the Legislature that:
(a) Existing off-highway vehicle recreational areas, facilities, and opportunities be improved and appropriately expanded and be managed in a manner consistent with this chapter, in particular to maintain natural resources and sustained long-term use of off-highway vehicle trails and areas.
(b) New off-highway vehicle recreational areas, facilities, and opportunities be provided and managed pursuant to this chapter in a manner that will sustain both long-term use and the environment.
(4) Nothing contained within this chapter shall be construed to require the construction or maintenance of off-highway vehicle recreation areas, facilities, or trails on public lands where such construction or maintenance would be inconsistent with the property’s management objectives or land management plan.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295.
261.03 Definitions.As used in this chapter, the term:
(1) “Advisory committee” means the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Advisory Committee created by s. 261.04.
(2) “ATV” means any motorized off-highway or all-terrain vehicle 50 inches or less in width, having a dry weight of 1,200 pounds or less, designed to travel on three or more nonhighway tires, and manufactured for recreational use by one or more persons.
(3) “Department” means the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
(4) “OHM” or “off-highway motorcycle” means any motor vehicle used off the roads or highways of this state that has a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and is designed to travel with not more than two wheels in contact with the ground, but excludes a tractor or a moped.
(5) “Off-highway vehicle” means any ATV, two-rider ATV, ROV, or OHM that is used off the roads or highways of this state and that is not registered and licensed for highway use under chapter 320.
(6) “Program” means the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Program.
(7) “Public lands” means lands within the state that are available for public use and that are owned, operated, or managed by a federal, state, county, or municipal governmental entity.
(8) “ROV” means any motorized recreational off-highway vehicle 65 inches or less in width, having a dry weight of 2,000 pounds or less, designed to travel on four or more nonhighway tires, and manufactured for recreational use by one or more persons. The term “ROV” does not include a golf cart as defined in ss. 316.003 and 320.01 or a low-speed vehicle as defined in s. 320.01.
(9) “System” means the off-highway vehicle recreation areas and trails on public lands within the state.
(10) “Trust fund” means the Incidental Trust Fund of the Florida Forest Service.
(11) “Two-rider ATV” means any ATV that is specifically designed by the manufacturer for a single operator and one passenger.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295; s. 26, ch. 2005-164; s. 1, ch. 2009-137; s. 1, ch. 2010-198; s. 42, ch. 2010-223; s. 66, ch. 2011-206; s. 12, ch. 2012-7; s. 77, ch. 2013-160; s. 1, ch. 2014-187.
261.04 Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Advisory Committee; members; appointment.
(1) The Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Advisory Committee is created within the Florida Forest Service and consists of nine members, all of whom are appointed by the Commissioner of Agriculture. The appointees shall include one representative of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, one representative of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, one representative of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Greenways and Trails, one representative of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, one citizen with scientific expertise in disciplines relating to ecology, wildlife biology, or other environmental sciences, one representative of a licensed off-highway vehicle dealer, and three representatives of off-highway vehicle recreation groups. In making these appointments, the commissioner shall consider the places of residence of the members to ensure statewide representation.
(2) The term of office of each member of the advisory committee is 2 years. The members first appointed shall classify themselves by lot so that the terms of four members expire June 30, 2005, and the terms of five members expire June 30, 2006.
(3) In case of a vacancy on the advisory committee, the commissioner shall appoint a successor member for the unexpired portion of the term.
(4) The members shall elect a chair among themselves who shall serve for 1 year or until a successor is elected.
(5) The members of the advisory committee shall serve without compensation while in the performance of their official duties.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295; s. 5, ch. 2011-206; s. 13, ch. 2012-7; s. 22, ch. 2018-110.
261.05 Duties and responsibilities of the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Advisory Committee.
(1) The advisory committee shall establish policies to guide the department regarding the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Program and the system of off-highway vehicle recreation areas and trails.
(2) The advisory committee shall make recommendations to the department regarding off-highway vehicle safety and training and education programs in the operation of such vehicles.
(3) The advisory committee must be informed regarding all governmental activities affecting the program.
(4) The advisory committee must be informed regarding off-highway vehicle impacts and effects on the environment, wildlife habitats, and native flora and fauna and shall make recommendations to avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts and promote sustained long-term use.
(5) The advisory committee must be fully informed regarding the inventory of off-highway vehicle access and opportunities.
(6) The advisory committee shall meet at various times and locations throughout the state to receive public comments on the implementation of the program and shall take these public comments into consideration when making its recommendations.
(7) The advisory committee shall review and make recommendations annually regarding the department’s proposed budget of expenditures from the designated off-highway vehicle funds in the trust fund, which may include providing funds to match grant funds available from other sources.
(8) The advisory committee shall make recommendations regarding all capital outlay expenditures from the trust fund proposed for inclusion in the budget and shall identify additional funding sources for management, enforcement, education, rehabilitation, and other duties of the land management agencies related to the system.
(9) The advisory committee shall review grant applications submitted by any governmental agency or entity or nongovernmental entity requesting moneys from the trust fund to create, operate, manage, or improve off-highway vehicle recreation areas or trails within the state, protect and restore affected natural areas in the system, or provide off-highway vehicle driver education. The advisory committee shall recommend to the department approval or denial of such grant applications based upon criteria established by the advisory committee.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295.
261.06 Functions, duties, and responsibilities of the department.The following are functions, duties, and responsibilities of the department through the Florida Forest Service:
(1) Coordination of the planning, development, conservation, and rehabilitation of state lands in and for the system.
(2) Coordination of the management, maintenance, administration, and operation of state lands in the system and the provision of law enforcement and appropriate public safety activities.
(3) Management of the trust fund and approval of the advisory committee’s budget recommendations.
(4) Implementation of the program, including the ultimate approval of grant applications submitted by governmental agencies or entities or nongovernmental entities.
(5) Coordination to help ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations of the program and lands in the system.
(6) Implementation of the policies established by the advisory committee.
(7) Provision of staff assistance to the advisory committee.
(8) Preparation of plans for lands in, or proposed to be included in, the system.
(9) Conducting surveys and the preparation of studies as are necessary or desirable for implementing the program.
(10) Recruitment and utilization of volunteers to further the program.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295; s. 4, ch. 2004-6; s. 14, ch. 2012-7; s. 9, ch. 2017-5.
261.07 Publication and distribution of guidebook; contents.In consultation with the advisory committee, the department shall publish a guidebook that includes the text of this chapter, other laws and regulations relating to the program, and maps of areas and trails of the system. The guidebook may include other public areas, trails, and facilities for the use of off-highway vehicles. The guidebook must include information regarding the responsibilities of users of the system and must set forth pertinent laws, rules, and regulations including particular provisions and other information intended to prevent trespass and damage to public or private property. The guidebook must be prepared at minimal cost to facilitate the broadest possible distribution and must be available for distribution no later than October 1, 2003.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295.
261.08 Repair, maintenance, and rehabilitation of areas, trails, and lands.
(1) The protection of public safety, the appropriate use of lands in the system, and the conservation of the environment, wildlife habitats, native wildlife, and native flora and fauna in the system are of the highest priority in the management of the system. Accordingly, the public land managing agency shall avoid or minimize adverse impacts to the environment, promptly repair and continuously maintain areas and trails, anticipate and prevent accelerated erosion, and rehabilitate lands to the extent damaged by off-highway vehicle use in accordance with the management plans of the public land managing agency.
(2) The public land managing agency shall monitor the condition of soils and wildlife habitat in each area of the system to determine whether there is compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations and shall take appropriate action as necessary.
(3) The public land managing agency may regulate or prohibit, when necessary, the use of off-highway vehicles on the public lands of the state in order to prevent damage or destruction to said lands.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295.
261.09 Contracts and agreements.The public land managing agency may contract with private persons or entities and enter into cooperative agreements with other public agencies for the care and maintenance of lands in the system, including contracts for law enforcement services with public agencies having law enforcement powers.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295.
261.10 Criteria for recreation areas and trails; limitation on liability.
(1) Publicly owned or operated off-highway vehicle recreation areas and trails shall be designated and maintained for recreational travel by off-highway vehicles. These areas and trails need not be generally suitable or maintained for normal travel by conventional two-wheel-drive vehicles and should not be designated as recreational footpaths. State off-highway vehicle recreation areas and trails must be selected and managed in accordance with this chapter.
(2) State agencies, water management districts, counties, and municipalities, and officers and employees thereof, which provide off-highway recreation areas and trails on publicly owned land are not liable for damage to personal property or personal injury or death to any person resulting from participation in the inherently dangerous risks of off-highway vehicle recreation. This subsection does not limit liability that would otherwise exist for an act of negligence by a state agency, water management district, county, or municipality, or officer or employee thereof, which is the proximate cause of the damage, injury, or death. Nothing in this subsection creates a duty of care or basis of liability for death, personal injury, or damage to personal property, nor shall anything in this subsection be deemed to be a waiver of sovereign immunity under any circumstances.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295; s. 3, ch. 2006-290.
261.11 Penalties.No off-highway vehicle may be operated upon the public roads, streets, or highways of this state, except as otherwise permitted by the managing local, state, or federal agency. A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as provided in chapter 318.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295.
261.12 Designated off-highway vehicle funds within the Incidental Trust Fund of the Florida Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
(1) The designated off-highway vehicle funds of the trust fund shall consist of deposits from the following sources:
(a) Fees paid to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for the titling of off-highway vehicles.
(b) Revenues and income from any other sources required by law or as appropriated by the Legislature to be deposited into the trust fund as designated off-highway vehicle funds.
(c) Donations from private sources that are designated as off-highway vehicle funds.
(d) Interest earned on designated off-highway vehicle funds on deposit in the trust fund.
(2) Designated off-highway vehicle funds in the trust fund shall be available for recommended allocation by the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Advisory Committee and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and upon annual appropriation by the Legislature, exclusively for the following:
(a) Implementation of the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Program by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which includes personnel and other related expenses; administrative and operating expenses; expenses related to safety, training, rider education programs, management, maintenance, and rehabilitation of lands in the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Program’s system of lands and trails; and, if funds are available, acquisition of lands to be included in the system and the management, maintenance, and rehabilitation of such lands.
(b) Approved grants to governmental agencies or entities or nongovernmental entities that wish to provide or improve off-highway vehicle recreation areas or trails for public use on public lands, provide environmental protection and restoration to affected natural areas in the system, provide enforcement of applicable regulations related to the system and off-highway vehicle activities, or provide education in the operation of off-highway vehicles.
(c) Matching funds to be used to match grant funds available from other sources.
(3) Notwithstanding s. 216.301 and pursuant to s. 216.351, any balance of designated off-highway vehicle funds in the trust fund at the end of any fiscal year shall remain therein and shall be available for the purposes set out in this section and as otherwise provided by law.
History.s. 53, ch. 2002-295; s. 15, ch. 2012-7.
261.20 Operations of off-highway vehicles on public lands; restrictions; safety courses; required equipment; prohibited acts; penalties.
(1) This section applies only to the operation of off-highway vehicles on public lands.
(2) Any person operating an off-highway vehicle as permitted in this section who has not attained 16 years of age must be supervised by an adult while operating the off-highway vehicle.
(3) While operating an off-highway vehicle, a person who has not attained 16 years of age must have in his or her possession a certificate evidencing the satisfactory completion of an approved off-highway vehicle safety course in this state or another jurisdiction. A nonresident who has not attained 16 years of age and who is in this state temporarily for a period not to exceed 30 days is exempt from this subsection. Nothing contained in this chapter shall prohibit an agency from requiring additional safety-education courses for all operators.
(4)(a) The department shall approve all off-highway vehicle public safety-education programs required by this chapter as a condition for operating on public lands.
(b) An off-highway vehicle must be equipped with a spark arrester that is approved by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, a braking system, and a muffler, all in operating condition.
(c) Off-highway vehicles, when operating pursuant to this chapter, shall be equipped with a silencer or other device which limits sound emissions. Exhaust noise must not exceed 96 decibels in the A-weighting scale for vehicles manufactured after January 1, 1986, or 99 decibels in the A-weighting scale for vehicles manufactured before January 1, 1986, when measured from a distance of 20 inches using test procedures established by the Society of Automotive Engineers under Standard J-1287. Off-highway vehicle manufacturers or their agents prior to the sale to the general public in this state of any new off-highway vehicle model manufactured after January 1, 2008, shall provide to the department revolutions-per-minute data needed to conduct the J-1287 test, where applicable.
(d) An off-highway vehicle that is operated between sunset and sunrise, or when visibility is reduced because of rain, smoke, or smog, must display a lighted headlamp and taillamp unless the use of such lights is prohibited by other laws, such as a prohibition on the use of lights when hunting at night.
(e) An off-highway vehicle that is used in certain organized and sanctioned competitive events being held on a closed course may be exempted by departmental rule from any equipment requirement in this subsection.
(5) It is a violation of this section:
(a) To carry more passengers on an off-highway vehicle than the machine is specifically designed by the manufacturer to carry.
(b) To operate an off-highway vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or any prescription or over-the-counter drug that impairs vision or motor condition.
(c) For a person who has not attained 16 years of age, to operate an off-highway vehicle without wearing eye protection, over-the-ankle boots, and a safety helmet that is approved by the United States Department of Transportation or Snell Memorial Foundation.
(d) To operate an off-highway vehicle in a careless or reckless manner that endangers or causes injury or damage to another person or property.
(6) Any person who violates this section commits a noncriminal infraction and is subject to a fine of not less than $100 and may have his or her privilege to operate an off-highway vehicle on public lands revoked. However, a person who commits such acts with intent to defraud, or who commits a second or subsequent violation, is subject to a fine of not less than $500 and may have his or her privilege to operate an off-highway vehicle on public lands revoked.
(7) Public land managing agencies, through the course of their management activities, are exempt from the provisions of paragraph (5)(a).
History.s. 4, ch. 2006-290; s. 2, ch. 2014-187; s. 23, ch. 2018-110.