The use of off-road vehicles (ORVs) is regulated to ensure their safe operation. Fines are provided for drivers who do not respect the rules of the road.
Who can drive an off-road vehicle
To drive an ORV on a trail, road, public land or private land belonging to a municipality, one of the following conditions must be met:
- be 16 or 17 years of age and hold a driver’s licence and a training certificate issued by the Fédération québécoise des clubs quads or the Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec;
- be 16 years of age or older and hold an authorization or a driver’s licence issued outside Québec, accepted or recognized as being of equivalent value.
To drive a recreational off-road vehicle (side by side), it is required to be 18 years of age or older and hold a valid driver’s license.
To drive a motoquad modified to include an add-on seat, it is required to be 18 years of age or older, hold a training certificate (which is required for drivers who transport a passenger) and hold a driver’s licence.
Valid driver's license
To drive an ORV, you need one of the following licenses:
- driver's license of any class (e.g., a class 8 tractor license or a moped license, provided the driver is at least 16 years old);
- learner's or probationary license;
- driver's license issued by another province.
Visit the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec website to find out how to obtain a driver's license .
Protective equipment for driver and passenger
At all times, OHV drivers and passengers must wear appropriate protective clothing, footwear and equipment to ensure their safety and that of others.
As a driver, you need to be shod so that you can easily control the vehicle's pedals. In addition, you and your passenger must wear a helmet fitted with a visor. If there is no visor, you must wear safety glasses in addition to your helmet. Your passenger is not required to wear a visor or safety glasses if riding in a trailer or sled with a closed cockpit.
Wearing a helmet is not compulsory if your speed does not exceed 30 km/h during trapping activities involving frequent stops.
Your vehicle must also have specific features to be compliant. To find out more, go to Mandatory off-road vehicle equipment page (in French only).
On the move
Throughout your journey, you must also:
- keep the white headlight(s) on the front of the vehicle and the red marker light on the rear on;
- respect speed limits;
- keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front;
- respect the prohibition against holding on to, standing on or riding on a moving ORV;
- adapt your driving to prevailing conditions, and take extra care when driving at night, even off the trail;
- take extra care on curves and when overtaking;
- respect road signs (in French only).
Other rules apply in other places. See the Off-highway vehicle traffic areas page (in French only) for more details.
The operation of an ORV or maintenance vehicle is prohibited for anyone impaired by drugs or alcohol. This rule also applies to any passenger in an ORV, sled or trailer.
The "zero alcohol" rule for young drivers, as well as license suspension and revocation measures, also apply.
In the event of a violation, police officers can immediately suspend your driver's license and fine you $300. You may be placed under arrest, and criminal charges may be laid against you. These offences are recorded in your driving record.
The maximum speed allowed for snowmobiles is 70 km/h. For ORVs, it's 50 km/h. Fines for speeding are progressive. Here are a few examples:
$90 for speeding more than 20 km/h over the speed limit;
$255 for speeding more than 45 km/h over the speed limit;
$590 for speeding more than 80 km/h over the speed limit;
$660 for speeds over 90 km/h over the legal limit.
Fines for violations
You must obey the rules of the road at all times, not only on the trails, but everywhere else. Fines vary according to offence.
- Fines of at least $150
A fine of at least $150 may be imposed on passengers who consume alcoholic beverages in an ORV or on a trailer or sled pulled by an ORV.
- Fines of at least $250
A fine of at least $250 may be imposed:
- the owner of an ORV who does not have liability insurance covering bodily injury or property damage caused by the vehicle;
- drivers on trails between midnight and 6 a.m;
- ORV passengers who fail to wear a helmet.
- Fines of at least $350
A fine of at least $350 may be issued to the driver in the following situations:
- failure to wear a helmet;
- illegally operating an ORV on a public road;
- riding on private property without the owner's or lessee's permission.
- Fines of at least $450
A fine of at least $450 may be issued when:
- the driver has consumed alcoholic beverages or drugs on an ORV;
- the owner has allowed or tolerated a 16- or 17-year-old person to drive his ORV without being of the required age or without holding the required training certificate;
- the owner has allowed or tolerated a minor to drive his ORV without being authorized to do so by one of his parents or the person having legal custody of the minor.
- For owners
All ORV owners must have liability insurance coverage of at least $1,000,000.
- For user clubs
The liability insurance required for an ORV users' club is $5,000,000.
Off-road vehicle rental
To rent an off-road vehicle, you must:
be at least 18 years old;
hold a valid driver's license;
have received the minimum training provided by the renter to understand the vehicle's operation and the minimum safety rules to be observed when driving it.