Signs regarding the use of off-highway vehicles in the village of Magdalena have been disappearing after a revision of an older ordinance updated the requirements needed by drivers.
A recent off-highway and horse trailer accident led to the signs being placed, and it led to a local uproar from citizens who were using the vehicles out and about town for several reasons.
Following the accident, Mayor Richard Rumpf tasked Marshal Michael Zamora with researching and enforcing the state ordinance.
The signs that went up following the ATV accident announced Magdalena was a “Closed Area No OHV Use Beyond This Point” and cited State Statute 66-3-1010.3 NMSA 1978 as the basis.
Magdalena residents voiced their displeasure at the newly announced enforcement.
“They use their ATVs and whatever to get around, pick up and pay for groceries. The citizens, they’re used to doing it, and it’s kind of ingrained,” Zamora said.
After hearing about possible revisions, Zamora did further research about the statute and found that Magdalena had adopted an amended version of the law in 2016.
The new compilation of the New Mexico Uniform Traffic Ordinance allowed the operation of recreational off-highway vehicles on a paved street owned and controlled by the authorizing agency, subject to certain conditions.
That boils down to a licensed driver may operate an off-highway vehicle that is properly permitted, the rider must be outfitted with eye protection and a helmet, and the OHV must have lights, mufflers, mirrors, and brakes.
There are also limitations regarding traveling on Highway 60, which may be crossed in the same manner as a road vehicle.
“We had to revise the ordinance, and now it’s in effect. The only thing is, like the state police here; they can cite them for being on a state highway. They’re also not allowed to be on the sidewalks,” Zamora said.
While riding an OHV in Magdalena has now been clarified, Zamora wants riders to keep some things in mind.
“We ask them to stay off to the side of the road – on the shoulder whenever it’s feasible. Of course, it’s like any other vehicle. It’s going to need to have a current registration, insurance, and permit, and they must wear safety protection,” Zamora said.
For Zamora, it is all about protecting the public, and he wants parents to know that he and his fellow marshals aren’t going to pass out breaks to underage drivers. Zamora said he had encounters with multiple riders on a single OHV that are underage and riding without safety equipment.
“When that happens, the question is, who are your parents? I tell them I will have to call their parents or tow the OHV off the road. We are simply trying to keep the public safe,” Zamora said.