Footpaths and Byways

Whilst most people who drive vehicles off-road do so lawfully and responsibly, a small minority damage the land and endanger the safety of other road and path users.

In order to protect our footpaths and byways, it is important the laws relating to them are followed.

Public Rights of Way

Apart from private access, motorised vehicles are only allowed on 'Byways Open to All Traffic' and carriageways.

Byways are public rights of way and all public rights of way are highways. This means that when using the byways your vehicle should be:

  • taxed
  • insured
  • have a current MOT
  • have a number plate
  • motorcyclists must wear a legal helmet.

Here are the restrictions for the various rights of way:



If a person does any of the following, they will be guilty of an offence:

  • drives carelessly or inconsiderately on a road or public place
  • rides or drives unlawfully on land not forming part of a road
  • drives on private land without the permission of the landowner - even with permission the driver must ensure that they behave responsibly and avoid causing damage to the land or harm to wildlife or livestock.

Report it

If you believe a vehicle was using a right of way illegally, causing damage or putting wildlife at risk, or if you felt threatened or at risk by their behaviour, then please report it to police by phoning 101.

When making a report, try to make a note of the following incident details:

  • time
  • date
  • location
  • details of the suspected offence
  • descriptions of those involved
  • any registration numbers of any vehicles involved.

Useful links

You can check to see if a route you intend to take with your motorised vehicle is legal by visiting the public rights of way pages of the following authority websites:

Suffolk County Council