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“Providing safety, security, and education to the recreational enthusiasts of Imperial County’s public lands and waterways.”


Imperial County Sheriff’s Office Off Highway Vehicle Enforcement Safety Team (O.H.V.E.S.T.)

Imperial County Sheriff’s Office Off Highway Vehicle Enforcement Safety Team (O.H.V.E.S.T.) O.H.V.E.S.T. is committed to provided safety, security and education to the resident and visiotrs of Imperial County’s vast off highway recreational areas. To accomplish this mission we provide education and information to members/visitors of the off highway community, enforce state and local ordinance to ensure safe OHV operation, and train and prepare for emergency response in case of OHV accident, medical response, search and rescue or natural disaster. O.H.V.E.S.T. uses a variety of vehicles and methods, including ATV’s, UTV’s, Sand Rail, and 4X4 trucks to assist in response.

Imperial County Sheriff’s Office Off Highway Vehicle Enforcement Safety Team (O.H.V.E.S.T.)

O.H.V.E.S.T. is located at 1050 North Easter Ave, Brawley, CA. O.H.V.E.S.T. is funded through, California OHV Grants and California OHV Green Sticker funds. Information regarding OHV safety laws and requirements can be located at, as well as maps of OHV areas within the Imperial County can be located at &

Imperial County is the tenth-largest (of 58) county in California. OHV recreation is one of the most popular activities within the county for residents and visitors alike. OHVEST provides law enforcement services to all public lands and OHV recreational areas within the Imperial County. These areas include:

  • Imperial San Dunes Recreational Area (ISDRA – Glamis/Buttercup) – 159,072 Acres
  • Superstition Mountains – 13,000 Acres
  • Plaster City – 41,000 Acres
  • Ocotillo Wells SVRA (State Vehicle Recreational Area) – 85,000 Acres
  • Heber Dunes SVRA (State Vehicle Recreational Area) – 343 Acres
  • Truckhaven – 25,000 Acres

The O.H.V.E.S.T. team consists of 1 Lieutenant, 1 Sergeant, 1 Senior Deputy, 2 Deputies, and an Office Assistant III.

For more information contact Sgt. Camilo Gonzalez, 1050 North Eastern Ave, Brawley, CA, (760)351- 3045 or email

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

1. Q: What safety equipment is required to operate an ATV?

A: Every vehicle operating on BLM lands must display a safety flag. The flag must be displayed 8 feet from the ground to the tip, orange or red in color and 6” x 12” pennant, triangle, square, or rectangular in shape. Helmets are required on all ATVs including rhinos, RZRs, and other UTVs whose engines are under 1000cc. Also spark arrestors must be equipped on all vehicles operating off road.

2. Q: Do I need to register my Off Highway Vehicle?

A: Yes. Green Sticker, Red Sticker, license plate, nonresident OHV use permit, or OHV dealer/manufacturer plate must be clearly displayed at all times. OHVs which have never been registered (brand new OHVs) or OHVs with registration which has been expired for over 6 months are subject to being towed. You must also carry a copy of the vehicle’s registration with you while in operation.

3. Q: Do I need a license to drive an OHV?

A: No you do not need a license to operate an OHV, however, if your license has been suspended or revoked you cannot operate any vehicle including OHVs on public lands.

4. Q: How old do you have to be to operate an OHV or ATV?

A: A minor, ages 14 through 18, may not operate an ATV unless they have either completed a certified safety course, are under the direct supervision of a safety certified adult, and/or under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian, or an adult who is authorized by the parent or guardian (CVC 38503). Minors under the age of 14 must satisfy one of the conditions set forth in section CVC 38503 and MUST be accompanied by AND under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian, OR accompanied by AND under the direct supervision of an adult who is authorized by the parent or guardian. *The Imperial County Sheriff’s Office OHVEST is proud to assist in offering an ASI certified ATV safety course for children of all ages in the Heber Dunes and ISDRA Glamis areas. For more information on dates, times, availability and equipment needed please contact OHVEST Sergeant Camilo Gonzalez.

5. Q: Can I ride at night?

A: Yes. All OHVs operating between one-half hour after sunset and one-half hour before sunrise must have at least one white headlight and one red taillight that illuminates up to 200 feet.

6. Q: Is there a speed limit off road?

A: Yes in certain areas. No motor vehicle shall exceed 15 miles per hour within 50 feet of any camp-ground, campsite, or concentration of people or animals.

7. Q: Can I get a D.U.I. off road?

A: Yes. It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.

8. Q: Can I bring fireworks to the dunes?

A: No. The use or possession of fireworks, including “safe and sane”, on all public lands is prohibited.

9. Q: Can I dump my RV/camper waste tanks on BLM land?

A: No. It is illegal to drain or dump refuse or waste (other than wash water) from a trailer or vehicle.

10. Q: Does my ATV/OHV need to have a muffler?

A: Yes. An adequate muffler is required on all off highway vehicles. Noise limits are also in effect. OHVs manufactured after 01/01/86 may not exceed 96 dBA. OHVs manufactured prior to 01/01/86 may not exceed 101 dBA.

11. Q: Can people ride in my truck bed off road?

A: No people may not ride unsecured in a truck bed on or off the highway.

12. Q: Can I bring my dog with me?

A: Yes, however, Dogs must be restrained by a leash, or confined in a vehicle or enclosure.

13. Q: Can I swim in the canals?

A: No, Swimming in a canal, lateral ditch or siphon in unincorporated areas of Imperial County is prohibited.

14. Q: Can my friend and I ride together on the same ATV?

A: No, Double riding is prohibited on all ATVs.

15. Q: Do I need a permit to when I come to use my OHVs?

A: Yes. Permits are required when visiting the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area and its 1 mile planning area boundary. This includes, but is not limited to, Buttercup, Gecko Rd, Glamis, Gordon's Well/Dunebuggy Flats, Mammoth Wash, Ogilby, Osborne, along both sides of the Coachella Canal and Ted Kipf Rd.

16. Q: Who needs a permit?

A: One permit is needed per primary vehicle. A primary vehicle is any street legal vehicle used for transportation to the recreation site. A permit is required at all times while in the fee area.  Please keep your permit until you exit the fee area.

17. Q: When do I need a permit?

A: Permits are required from October 1 through April 15 each year. Permit free days will be consistent with those authorized by the President, the Secretary of the Interior, the BLM Director, California State Director, and the BLM El Centro Field Office Authorized Officer.

18. Q: If I come in late at night how long do I have to get a permit?

A: The permit is required immediately upon arrival to the recreation area.  The on-site permit vendors close in the evening, and if you are unable to purchase one before entering the permit area you will be subject to receiving a citation. When you purchase your permit before you arrive at the dunes, you save money.

19. Q: Where can I purchase a permit?

A: Save time and money by purchasing your permit online or at one of the multiple locations prior to arriving at the Imperial Sand Dunes. For a map of locations to purchase your permit or to purchase your permit online visit: For each seasonal or weekly permit purchased online you may purchase a second weekly permit for just $25.00.

20. Q: Why did the permit prices go up?

A: Permits have been available at the same price since 2004.  BLM has taken several steps to keep fees low, such as, but not limited to: increasing fee compliance, increasing efficiency of operations, reducing contract costs, applying for private grants, applying for OHV (Green Sticker) grants, partnering with private and public organizations, reducing maintenance of facilities and reducing emergency services. Even with the cost saving measures listed above, fees, grants and federal funding have not been enough to cover operating expenditures. Without the fee increase, employee and public health and safety, as well as the risk of litigation, could put sustainable OHV recreation in the Imperial Sand Dunes in jeopardy.

21. Q: Why is the season permit a sticker?

A: The BLM addressed several different alternatives for a season permit, ranging from no season permit to a hang tag costing $180.  In order to address the public's request to keep a season permit and reduce the cost of the permit, and to address the compliance issues with visitors sharing permits, BLM is offering a season permit for $150 in the form of a sticker to be affixed to the vehicle.  Other notes:

a.  Historically, about 20% of all permits sold were season hangtags, however, in the FY 2012

and 2013, over 50% of the vehicles in the dunes displayed season hang tags.

b.  Various internet sites were advertising permit sharing, which is illegal.

c.  BLM tried registering each seasonal hangtag to each person and vehicle in the past, and it resulted in poor customer service and long lines (several hours).  This system would require the BLM to make more intrusive camp contacts to match the registration of each permit to each vehicle.  It also would have resulted in an increased cost to manage the program and negatively impacts the visitor's recreational experience.

22. Q: Why is the sticker affixed to the outside of the windshield?

A: BLM considered both external and internal windshield stickers as a season permit.  The external sticker was selected because:

a. Internal stickers afford more opportunities for illegal transfers of the permit (which result in lower compliance and a more expensive permit).

b. External stickers are more visible, thereby reducing the cost of enforcement and reducing the need to intrude into camps.

c. Other programs utilize exterior stickers, such as: U.S. Military, motor vehicle registration, OHV registration, private parking permits, etc.

d. Theft deterrent stickers are available.

23. Q: Can I laminate my sticker and tape it to the inside of my windshield?

A: No, The season permit must be adhered to your vehicle at all times while in the required permit area of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA).  The adhesive supplied on the sticky side of the permit must be used to attach the sticker.Place the permit sticker on the exterior driver's side, lower corner of the front windshield.  If the permit will be hidden due to a windshield cover, then adhere it to the exterior side of the window directly behind the RV driver.

24. Q: What if I have two vehicles?

A: Unless it is out of the fee period or fee area, each primary vehicle must have a season or weekly permit displayed.

25. Q: What if I sell my vehicle that has my season permit attached to it?

A: Permits are non-transferable.  If you sell your vehicle with your permit on it, you will need to purchase another permit.

26. Q: Does my America the Beautiful (Golden Access/Age/Eagle Passport) reduce my fee?

A: No. America the Beautiful passes only apply to "entry" and "use" fees. America the Beautiful program discounts do not apply to the "non-commercial special recreation permit fees" which are charged in this off-highway vehicle area. Please see the back of your America the Beautiful pass for more details.

27. Q: Are there any short term visitation areas where a permit is not required?

A: Permits are not required for short-term visitation at Osborne Overlook, the Plank Road Cultural Resource Site, the Buttercup and Cahuilla Ranger Stations,* or the Watchable Wildlife Area.   *Short-term visitation areas are posted.

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