Do you need a license to drive an ATV?

By Steve Korris | May 11, 2007

CHARLESTON – Drivers of all terrain vehicles don't need driver's licenses in West Virginia, but Roane County prosecutor Mark Sergent believes that anyone who loses a driver's license should lose the right to drive an ATV.

On May 9 he asked the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to let him prosecute Robert Sarver for driving an ATV when his driving privileges had been revoked.

Sergent sought to reverse a decision of Circuit Judge David Nibert, who dismissed Sarver's case in 2005.

Sarver's attorney, public defender Teresa Monk of Spencer, told the Justices that state law allows ATVs to cross two-lane highways. She said that's what Sarver did.

Deputies stopped Sarver near Walton, on Ambler Ridge Road at U.S. 119. They found that that his license had been revoked in 2002 after two convictions and a third arrest on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol.

They prepared a felony charge of driving while his license was revoked for driving under the influence, third offense.

A grand jury indicted him in 2005.

Monk filed a motion to clarify the law. Nibert found that Sarver did not need a license.

At oral argument before the Justices, Sergent said Sarver's license had been revoked almost 10 years.

Justice Joseph Albright asked if his whole theory was that an ATV is a motor vehicle. Sergent said yes.

Monk said state law does not require licenses for ATV operators.

Albright said the state made the distinction that the law was irrelevant because the privilege had been suspended.

Monk said if the driver operates in conformity with the law, it is not a motor vehicle.

She said, "It's like a horse." She said the code on driving under the influence applies to vehicles, and a horse is a vehicle.

She said the code on driving under the influence applied to a horse but suspension of a driver's license did not.

In rebuttal, Sergent said the ATV law did not change the revocation law.

"Even though you don't need a license to operate an ATV?" Maynard said. "Does that apply to riding lawn mowers?"

Maynard then laughed and said, "I'm going to take that question back."

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