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Whether you’re a seasoned snowmobiler or a newbie, you can still get into an accident resulting in severe and life-threatening injuries. You can also get into trouble if you fail to meet the legal responsibilities imposed on Ontario snowmobile operators. Let’s have a look at snowmobilers’ legal responsibilities and consequences for violations.  

snowmobile accident


Snowmobiles can be a great way to get around. They are also a lot of fun to drive. But make no mistake—they are not toys. The Ontario government has imposed laws to ensure motorized snow vehicles are used safely. The Motorized Snow Vehicles Act and its regulations govern the ownership and use of snowmobiles in Ontario. Here are the highlights. 

Registration requirements 

You must register your snowmobile with the Ministry of Transportation before driving it, whether its new or used. There is a one-time registration fee and annual renewal fee thereafter. After registering, you’ll get a permit and a registration number decal that must be displayed on your snowmobile. You can be fined between $200 and $1,000 if you drive your snowmobile without a valid permit.   

Insurance obligations 

If you’re only going to drive your snowmobile on your own private property, you don’t need to have insurance. However, if you are going to be driving your snowmobile anywhere other than on your own private property, you must have valid insurance in place. The Motorized Snow Vehicle Act requires you to insure your motorized snow vehicle under a motor vehicle liability policy in accordance with Ontario’s Insurance Act, which requires the following minimum coverages:  

  • Third-party liability coverage of at least $200,000; 

  • Statutory accident benefits coverage; 

  • Uninsured automobile coverage; and 

  • Direct compensation—property damage coverage. 

It’s up to you if you want to buy additional coverage (e.g., collision and comprehensive; specified perils). If you don’t have valid insurance that includes the minimum coverages when snowmobiling on land that you don’t own or occupy, you can be fined between $200 and $1,000.  

Licencing requirements 

Anyone 16 years or older must have a valid Ontario driver’s licence (any class) to legally operate a snowmobile. Anyone over the age of 12 who does not have a valid Ontario driver’s licence can legally operate a snowmobile only if they have passed the Ontario Snowmobile Safety Course and obtained a motorized snow-vehicle operator’s licence (“MSVOL”). 

Restrictions on where you can snowmobile 

Your licence type and age dictate where you are allowed to drive a snowmobile:  

  • Anyone 12 and under can operate a snowmobile only on private property and must be closely supervised by an adult.  

  • Anyone between ages 12 and 16 who has a MSVOL can drive on snowmobile trails and private property.  

  • Anyone 16 or older who has a valid Ontario driver’s licence or MSVOL can drive on snowmobile trails, private property, and along or across public roads (only where permitted). 

Note that if you are driving on a trail operated by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, you must purchase and display a valid snowmobile trail permit. If you are going to drive on a trail operated and maintained by a local snowmobile club, check with them first to find out if you need a trail permit.  

Speed limits 

Section 14 of Ontario’s Motorized Snow Vehicles Act imposes speed limits for snowmobiles. The law states that you must not drive a snowmobile faster than 20 km/h in any public park, exhibition ground, or on a road where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less.  

The law further states that you must not drive a snowmobile faster than 50 km/h on any snowmobile trails or on any road where the speed limit is greater than 50 km/h. Violating the speed limit can result in a ticket and a fine, or worse—being charged with the offence of careless driving under the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act.  

Helmet requirement 

All snowmobile operators not on their own private property must wear a helmet that complies with the regulations, with the chin strap securely fastened under their chin.  

Impaired snowmobiling prohibition 

It is against the law to drive a snowmobile when impaired by alcohol or drugs. Alcohol is a major factor in snowmobile accidents and snowmobile fatalities. 


Barrie lawyers at Littlejohn Barristers can help if you’ve been injured in a snowmobile accident. We can help you obtain statutory accident benefits  from your insurer, even if you caused the collision. Statutory accident benefits (also known as “no-fault benefits”) cover various out-of-pocket expenses such as medical bills, lost wages and caregiver expenses.  

If someone else’s negligence caused the snowmobile accident, you may also be able to file a lawsuit against them to seek compensation over and above what you receive in no-fault benefits (e.g., damages for physical and emotional pain and suffering; damages for future care and future wage loss).  


Barrie law firm Littlejohn Barristers is here to help if you’ve been hurt in a snowmobile accident. Collingwood, Midland, Orillia, and surrounding Ontario area residents are all welcome to contact us for guidance and practical legal advice relating to a personal injury claim.  

We understand the complexities of snowmobiling accidents and can help you navigate the legal process. If you or a loved one have suffered a debilitating injury in a snowmobile accident, Barrie lawyers at our office can help you claim accident benefits and file a lawsuit to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.  

To set up a free, no-obligation consultation, or to learn more about the services offered by our law firm, contact us today


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