Last updated on October 11th, 2023
How cool would it be to drive your side-by-side vehicle to work? Your kids will be overjoyed if you take your UTV to pick them from school. Don’t you think so? However, every owner of such a ride would ponder over the question, are side-by-sides street legal or not?
To your surprise, side-by-sides are legal in most of the states of the U.S. Still; there are a few states that have not yet legalized the use of UTVs on public roads. Also, the ones that allow doing so with a few conditions and restrictions.
Do you want to know if your hometown falls under this category or not? In this article, you will find a detailed insight into each state’s laws about the legality of side-by-sides.
In Which States are Side-by-Sides Street Legal?
The laws for driving UTVs vary from state to state. Additionally, it may differ between two cities of the same state. So, in which states are side-by-sides street legal?
Out of the 50 total states, 9 states have completely prohibited the use of side-by-side vehicles on public streets. For the remaining 41, you will need to consider a few general rules.
Here’s a list of the prerequisites that your UTV or ATV must have in order to comply with the state rules.
1.General Prerequisites for Side-by-Sides to Become Street Legal
- License plate
- Rear and side-view mirrors
- A horn that is audible up to a distance of 250 feet
- Brake lights
- Rear reflectors
- Windshield or a substitute eye protection
- Turn signals in front as well as rear
- Tag holder that faces rear side (along with a light and tag)
- High and low beam headlights
You need to make sure that you add the above mentioned in your side-by-side. Alternatively, you can opt for a street-legal kit that includes switches, turn signals, mirrors, and license plates.
2.Other Requirements for Side-by-Sides to Become Street Lega
- Vehicle insurance
- Should be able to clear the safety inspection by the state as well as an emissions test
- A valid driver’s license
Note: Even if you comply with all the above requirements, your UTV may not be allowed in some areas. These include highways with high-speed limits, highly populated areas, etc. However, you must re-check with your local DMV for complete information.
3.State Wise Road Laws for Side-by-Side
In Alabama, off-road vehicles cannot be registered, which is why they cannot be used on public highways. UTVs and ATVs fall under off-road vehicles and are thus prohibited for use on public streets.
Alaska does not allow side-by-sides on public roadways. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. You can use your side-by-side in Alaska on public roads:
- In case the roads are covered with snow or ice, no other vehicle can be used to travel.
- If you are driving perpendicular to the highway or crossing it at a right angle.
- When that specific highway permits off-highway vehicles.
- In case you need to cross a bridge. While doing so, you need to make sure that you are on the extreme right side of the road. It is done to prevent interference with other traffic on that highway.
If you want to ride your side-by-side in Arizona, it is as easy as any other on-road vehicle. All you need to do is follow a few general rules as you would with your other vehicles. Here is the list of requirements to legalize your UTV or ATV in Arizona:
- License plate
- Vehicle insurance
- Proof of passing an emission test
- Registering the vehicle and paying the required fees
- Title for the ATV or UTV
In Arkansas, you cannot use your side-by-side on public roadways. However, it is not strictly prohibited. You may use it in the following conditions.
- If the road is outside city limits and is not considered a state highway or even an interstate one.
- In case the driver of the vehicle is the personnel of the emergency or utility industry and requires to carry out an official business.
- When you use the UTV or ATV for hunting or farming activities.
- Suppose you want to travel from one off-road trail to another or from your private property to an off-road trail or other private land or property. In such cases, the distance must be equal to or less than 3 miles.
- In case you are crossing a highway or a public street.
- Suppose an individual is suffering from a walking disability. It includes losing one or both legs.
California does not completely prohibit the use of ATVs and UTVs. It is allowed in the following situations.
- In the case of crossing a highway that has two lanes. Make sure to cross it at 90 degrees or perpendicularly and at a safe time.
- Some roads are specifically marked for the use of both side-by-sides and regular vehicles. These stretches are usually not more than 3 miles and are made for connecting off-road trails.
- The driver must be wearing a helmet.
- You need to carry your driver’s license.
In Colorado, the use of side-by-sides varies according to the counties and jurisdiction. For this, you need to confirm with your local DMV about the rule in your specific area. Note that you need to have a registration sticker while riding your ATV or UTV in this state. It costs $25.5 per year and expires by 31st March of every year.
Connecticut does not legalize the use of ATVs or UTVs on public roads. You can still use the vehicle if you hold a valid driving license only for crossing the street. Make sure that it does not fall under the category of the limited-access highway. Also, you can only cross at a 90-degree angle.
The state does not allow the operation of a side-by-side vehicle on a public street. You can only push it along a sidewalk that too, in neutral.
Florida does not permit the use of ATV or UTV vehicles on public roads. However, you may use an ATV during the daytime on a public roadway that is unpaved.
Also, that road must have a speed limit of less than 35 mph. The law enforcement officer can drive such vehicles within the scope of their respective duties.
The law of Georgia is not the same for all the cities of the state. The center authorities have given this responsibility to the legislation of county governments. Therefore, you must contact the local DMV for information on the use of side-by-sides.
In Hawaii, the use of side-by-side vehicles is generally not allowed on public roads. However, you can use the ATV or UTV for farming purposes.
Make sure that you have a valid driver’s license and drive in areas with a speed limit of 35 mph or less. Also, you can operate such vehicles only if your county has a population of 500,000 or less.
Idaho has opened its public roads to use side-by-sides, with exceptions to federal or state highways. However, you need to ensure that you carry a valid driver’s license along with the vehicle insurance and IDPR OHV registration.
The state of Illinois does not permit the use of a side-by-side vehicle. You may only drive such a vehicle while crossing a street. Make sure that you
- cross at 90 degrees.
- stay on the extreme right of the road.
- come to a complete stop before crossing.
- cross at an intersection only, in case you are crossing a divided highway.
Indiana does not generally permit the operation of a side-by-side vehicle on public roadways. Still, you can use your UTV or ATV:
- while crossing a highway (at 90 degrees).
- on the right-of-way that is adjacent to a public highway.
- if your county government allows the use of such vehicles.
The state of Iowa does not permit the use of side-by-sides on public roads in general. However, a few counties may permit their residents for the same. In case your county does not allow to ride a UTV or ATV, you can still do so if,
- you need to ride for a farming purpose (only during daytime).
- you own the land right-of-way to the highway. in this case, you can ride your UTV/ATV, given that you are at least five feet away from the highway.
The basic rules in the state of Kansas include the registration of your side-by-side with the state. Additionally, you can only ride the vehicle on public roads in a city with a population of 15,000 or less. Apart from that, the rules of your specific city may depend on the local county authorities.
In Kentucky, you cannot ride a side-by-side vehicle on public roads or highways. The only exceptions to this are the basic ones, such as crossing the street at 90 degrees, crossing at an intersection, etc. You can also do so with a licensed vehicle for farming activities, road maintenance, and sundries.
Louisiana allows you to ride side-by-sides only in case of agriculture-related activities. The conditions include riding within 5 miles of your farm on roads excluding interstate highways. Also, make sure that your ATV or UTV is only on the shoulder of the road.
Note: The usage is allowed from 1.5 hours before sunrise to 1.5 hours after sunset.
The state of Maine allows its residents to ride a side-by-side vehicle, given the vehicle is registered. You must not forget to register your vehicle every year and obtain the sticker. Apart from that, your ATV or UTV must be equipped with safety lights, turn signals, and other prerequisites listed above.
Note: You can only ride your side-by-side on roads that have a speed limit of 45 mph or less.
Using a side-by-side vehicle is not allowed in Maryland unless you are doing so for farming activities. Also, if you want to ride the vehicle only on your property, you are not required to get it registered. The basic crossing rules in this state are the same as the other states.
Massachusetts strictly prohibits the use of a UTV or ATV on public roads. Make sure that your vehicle is registered with the state. Also, you may use the vehicle for crossing streets while following the standard rules.
Like many other states, Michigan does not allow the use of side-by-sides on public highways and roads. However, you can cross the roads in accordance with the standard rules, such as stopping and crossing at 90 degrees. Apart from that, you can make various modifications to your vehicle, as mentioned in the Bill of 5639, passed by the House.
If permitted by the authority of your particular county, you can operate your side-by-side vehicle on the shoulder of a public road. These include:
- Right-of-way on an interstate highway
- Roads designated as non-motorized
- Right-of-way between opposing lanes
The state of Mississippi does not allow the use of a UTV or ATV on public roads. Still, it may depend on your local authorities to decide the country-specific rules.
In Missouri, the state does not permit the use of ATVs and UTVs on public roads. However, this rule is an exception if you are using it for agricultural purposes or allowed by the local authorities.
Even if you are allowed, you must have a valid driver’s license and ride only up to a speed of 30 mph.
The state of Montana does not permit the use of side-by-sides on the interstate or federal highways. However, you can ride an ATV on roads approved by the Forest Services. Apart from that, your local county government or city government may approve or disapprove of the use in your specific region.
Nebraska only allows the use of side-by-sides for agricultural purposes, that too only on the shoulder of roads. Such roads should be outside the limits of the city and should not fall under the controlled-access highways.
Apart from that, make sure that you do not exceed the speed limit of 30 mph. Also, follow other prerequisites, such as license, insurance, tail light, triangular safety flag, headlight, and more.
Quite strict about the use of side-by-sides, Nevada doesn’t allow ATVs and UTVs on public roads. Still, there are exceptions to it, when the authorities permit in case of an emergency.
New Hampshire does not permit side-by-side vehicles on public roads unless the road is open for OHRV. Even in such cases, you must drive at the speed of 10 mph or less. Also, you need to make sure that you stay at the extreme right of the road.
In New Jersey, residents are prohibited from driving side-by-sides on public highways and roads. However, you can still do so at the crossings, given you follow the standard rules of crossing at 90 degrees.
New Mexico does not permit the use of side-by-sides on paved roads. Nevertheless, the county-specific rules may vary according to the respective authorities. You must contact your local DMV or other authorities to be clear about your city or county rules.
The state of New York strictly prohibits the use of side-by-side vehicles unless it has been specified. In some cities or counties, the local government may allow the use of ATV/UTV.
It will be on the section of the highway that falls between two off-highway trails. You must confirm the same with your local police or DMV.
You cannot use your UTV or ATV on public roads, highways, or streets in North Carolina. However, this is an exception in the case of using the vehicle for agricultural and hunting purposes. Also, you may use the vehicle on public roadways for crossing if you follow the basic standards.
North Dakota requires you to have a registered side-by-side vehicle if you want to use it on a public road. Even then, you can ride the UTV or ATV only on a highway that has a speed limit of 55 mph. Other than that, your side-by-side will be allowed in dirt and gravel or other such loose surface areas only.
You can ride your side-by-side in Ohio only if your local county government or city authorities allow it. Apart from that, you can use your UTV or ATV to cross the street at 90 degrees and the extreme right of the road.
Oklahoma does not allow the residents to use their side-by-sides on public roads. However, you can cross a public highway while doing so at 90 degrees and yielding to the right-of-way. Additionally, side-by-sides are permissible if your county or city government allows for the same.
Oregon strictly prohibits the use of UTVs and ATVs on public pavements and roads that are used for general traffic. However, you may use your side-by-side on gravel roads that specify the allowance for a side-by-side vehicle. Make sure you do not ride on the shoulder of a public road or crossroads with your UTV or ATV.
In Pennsylvania, you can drive side-by-sides only on roads that are posted for the use of off-highway vehicles. Apart from this, you cannot use a UTV or ATV on public roads unless you are crossing. You can also cross at 90 degrees to the road, after coming to a complete stop, and at the right side of traffic.
Rhode Island does not permit the use of side-by-sides on public roads other than while crossing or in case of emergencies. You can do so at the extreme right side, at a perpendicular angle to the road, and after coming to a complete stop.
The state of South Carolina leaves the decision of allowing the use of side-by-sides on the city and county authorities. Even if your regional government permits, you must have:
- spark arrestor approved by USDA Forest Services.
- brake system.
- muffler system.
South Dakota allows you to make your side-by-side vehicle legalized for public roads with a few conditions. Your vehicle engine must be larger than 200 CCs and fully equipped with the prerequisites mentioned in the above list. Even then, you cannot drive the vehicle on interstate highways.
In Tennessee, you can use your side-by-side vehicle on public roads only while crossing. In other cases, the use of ATVs and UTVs is strictly prohibited.
The state of Texas does not allow the operation of a side-by-side vehicle on public roads. There is an exception to the use of these vehicles for farming activities. Even if so, make sure that you do not travel more than 25 miles. Also, your vehicle must contain the required equipment.
Utah allows the operators of side-by-sides to register their vehicles as a street-legal one. For this, your vehicles must be registered and titled, along with having all the required equipment. Even after legalizing, you are not allowed to drive the vehicle on:
- interstate highways.
- highways unauthorized for off-road vehicles.
- roadways with a speed limit of 50 mph or above.
The state of Vermont restricts the use of side-by-sides on public roads and highways. Nevertheless, you can use the vehicle while crossing a public road, highway, or street. Make sure to cross at 90 degrees to the road, come to a stop before crossing, and stay at the extreme right.
According to Virginia’s rules, you can use a side-by-side vehicle on public roads only in case you are a farmer. In such a case, you will need to get permission for the same and show proof of your occupation. Apart from that, you are also allowed to use the vehicle for crossing a public road.
Washington prohibits the use of UTVs and ATVs on public roads and highways. The state allows you to drive such a vehicle to cross the public roads given its speed limit is 35 mph or less.
In West Virginia, you may ride a side-by-side vehicle on the shoulder of a public road when traveling from one trailer to another. However, you need to make sure that your speed limit does not exceed 20 mph. You can also use the vehicle for crossing the street at 90 degrees to the road while staying on the extreme right.
The use of a side-by-side vehicle is prohibited in public areas such as roads and highways. However, such a vehicle is allowed on public roads if being used for agricultural purposes. Even then, you will need permission that you can get by showing proof of your occupation.
Wyoming allows its residents to convert their side-by-side vehicle into a street-legal one. You can do this by obtaining a multipurpose vehicle permit (MVP). To get the MVP, your vehicle must be equipped with all the prerequisites and requirements.
Up to now, you have a general idea about the rules in each state. Here is the list of authorities that you can contact for details about the local laws for side-by-sides.
How to Get Region-Specific Information for Side-by-Sides?
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the best option to collect detailed information from. It is the government agency running at the state-level that regulates the registration of vehicles and driving licenses.
Your DMV can tell you about the side-by-side rules in your region, along with whether you need to register or not. In case you do, you can obtain the requirements and procedure for registration from this agency. You may call, view the website, or make a personal visit to your state DMV office for complete details.
You can also gather all the information about the process of making your side-by-side street legal.
City and County
In many cases, the state government leaves a side-by-side vehicle’s jurisdiction to the county and city authorities. Hence, it is one of the wisest options to clear your doubts regarding a UTV or ATV from your local officials.
Some cities may restrict the use of such vehicles due to noise pollution, traffic congestion, and safety. You can collect detailed information on your city-specific laws on their official website. Alternatively, you can consider consulting the local police from the same.
Local Side-by-Side Clubs and Groups
Are you new in the state, or have you recently bought a side-by-side vehicle? Whatever be the case, your city will surely have a few local groups of side-by-side owners. Getting in contact with these groups can give you an insight into the complete scenario of your city.
From all the rules and regulations to the requirements and restrictions, you can acquire all the details from your fellow side-by-side operators. Apart from that, they can also make you aware of the loopholes in the laws.
If you want knowledge about converting your vehicle into a street-legal one, you will surely find someone who already has.
Learning about the state as well as regional laws from official sources is unparalleled, even if they are about vehicles. You can get the best information by reading the specific laws by yourself.
Such laws are usually provided in detail at the city and state websites. Alternatively, you can choose to consider a lawyer that you are acquainted with.
Public roads also include the areas of National Forest land. In some areas, you may not be able to drive your side-by-side vehicle on the mountains and roads of National Forests. You surely do not want to get fined by a forest officer, right?
So, along with checking with the city laws and authorities, you must also contact the forest services. They can provide you with the correct details about driving side-by-sides in forest lands.
To Sum Up
Only a UTV owner will know that no other vehicle can be as fun as riding a side-by-side vehicle. If you are reading this article, you are probably one of them. Though these vehicles are full of thrill and adventure, using them at unauthorized places may cost you hundreds of dollars.
So, are side-by-sides legal? They are legal in most of the states, but not all. Also, all side-by-sides are legal for use on private properties, given that they are registered.
In this article, you learned about the laws related to the use of side-by-sides in various states. Also, you get an insight into the prerequisites and requirements for legalizing your vehicle.
So, double-check with the authorities, drive only in the permitted areas, and have an electrifying side-by-side ride!