New Off-Highway Motorcycle Program Begins October 1, 2016

MADISON – When Gov. Scott Walker signed 2016 Wis Act 170 into law, the new Off-Highway Motorcycle Program was created for Wisconsin. Under Wisconsin Statutes, the OHM Program begins on Oct. 1, 2016.

Key Points Regarding the New OHM Program:

Effective October 1, 2016, all OHMs must be registered with the DNR if any of the following apply:

  • OHM isused for recreational purposes on public lands
  • OHM isused for recreational purposes on private lands held open for the public
  • OHM isused for private agricultural uses
  • OHMs soldby a dealer must be registered for public or private use if the OHM willbe operated in any the manners listed above. (Visit for dealer information)

DNR registration will be available beginning Oct. 1, 2016 through the online system at: GoWild.Wi.Gov, at DNR Service Centers, and by mailed-in paper application. One OHM decal will be provided by mail. A temporary operating receipt will be issued both through the online system and at DNR Service Centers to registered OHM owners, which is to be carried by the operator until the decal is received in the mail. If registration is submitted by mail, it is not legal to operate the OHM on lands open to the public until the decal is affixed to the motorcycle.

“Wisconsin Statutes define an off highway motorcycle as any two-wheeled motor vehicle that is straddled by the operator, that is equipped with handlebars, and that is designed for use off a highway, regardless of whether the motor vehicle is also designed for use on a highway,” said Gary Eddy, DNR recreational vehicle administrator.

OHMs may include what are commonly known as “street legal, dual-sport bikes” and “non‑street legal trail or dirt bikes.” OHMs may operate on public roadways in any of the following situations:

  • The OHMis registered for public use, a local ordinance exists that officiallydesignates the road (or portion thereof) as an OHM route and official “OHM route” signs arelegally posted; OR
  • The OHMis licensed with WisDOT; or
  • The OHMis used and registered for agricultural purposes with DNR

Riders of dual-sport OHMs who wish to operate on public roads and designated trails must be registered with DNR and licensed with WisDOT.

“Not all ATV trails and routes are open for legal off-highway motorcycle use,” Eddy said. “Previously open OHM areas should continue to remain open, but riders should check with local trail managers or local governments for any updates on OHM areas or local regulations.”

Riders can also check with the Wisconsin Off-Highway Motorcycle Association (

Public areas previously open to OHMs may require that operators of OHM obtain a local OHM trail use sticker. This local sticker requirement would be in addition to DNR OHM registration and decal; please check with your local trail manager about any local OHM trail use sticker requirement.

All OHM operators who are at least 12 years old and born after January 1, 1998, must have completed OHM Safety certification to operate an OHM on areas open to the public for recreational use. The DNR will be creating a combined online ATV/OHM Safety Certification training course for operators needing both certifications and an online OHM short-course for previous WI ATV Safety graduates that only need OHM Safety certification.

All OHM manufacturers, dealers, distributors, renters or any combination thereof engaged in OHM business within the State of Wisconsin must register with the DNR and obtain a commercial certificate and decals.

OHMs not licensed with WisDOT and used on areas open to the public for recreational use of OHMs may not emit noise in excess of 96 decibels and must be equipped with a U.S. Forest Service approved spark arrester.

The following information will also be available beginning Oct. 1, 2016 to help introduce you to the new Off Highway Motorcycle (OHM) program:

  • OHM registration process (including dealers)
  • Regulation pamphlet
  • Web page
  • Safety education materials

For all information and periodic updates, visit and search keyword “OHM.”