Responsible Trails America released its second annual national report Tuesday that shows the three states require large license plates or decals with contrasting colors and a minimum font size that are easy for law enforcement officials to see. States that use those models also would help private property owners in rural areas deter trespassers when no authorities are nearby, the group said.
“We know by talking to law enforcement that having a larger license plate or sticker decal is one of the easiest tools they can use to identify somebody that’s breaking the law,” said the group’s director, Shannon Raborn.
The report found that identification requirements vary across the country, with 12 states that mandate large, visible plates or decals with a minimum font size. Others state laws don’t address the size of fonts or decals, and 13 states have no identification requirements, the report said.
Arizona has a license plate with an off-road vehicle decal. Wisconsin’s governor signed a law earlier this year under which off-road vehicle owners must have a license plate with black-and-white lettering that they can buy or make themselves. Legislation passed in Nevada in 2009 requires off-road vehicle registration starting next month.
Bray Addison, a patrol captain with the U.S. Forest Service in central Arizona, sees a mix of off-road vehicles from states that do and do not have identification mandates. The majority of the area he covers is in the nearly 3 million-acre Tonto National Forest, just outside Phoenix. It’s one of the country’s largest forests with 6 million visitors a year, many of whom are off-road enthusiasts in an area better known for its desert terrain than trees.
Stickers or license plates can help law enforcement track down stolen off-road vehicles or ensure that riders are complying with the law, Addison said.
“It does make it more difficult for us to find that person without those plate numbers,” he said. “Sometimes we’re successful, and sometimes we’re not.”
While the report saw no change in the number of states with identification requirements over last year’s report, Raborn pointed out a possible trend. Six states attempted to pass legislation for visible identification on off-road vehicles.
“We think it’s positive so many states have an ID in place,” she said. “If we can push and encourage states to make those IDs larger, that would be helpful.”