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Street Legal ATVs / UTVs: Regulations in your State

Apr 19th 2018

Have fun and be safe at the same time! Make sure you’re up-to-snuff on the ATV/UTV regulations in your home state.

Nothing beats traversing rocky trails, navigating rough and remote logging roads, and going completely off the beaten path in an a Polaris Ranger; but several instances exist where on-road riding might be required, useful, or at the very least, less of a hassle. Not all trail networks are connected, and you might need to roll over a bit of blacktop to go from one trail to another. And if you've got a nice riding destination near your house, loading and unloading your bike from a flatbed or enclosed  trailer can be a major buzzkill. For work-related applications, having a street legal UTV or ATV can make things more efficient and increase productivity. And for leisure rides, owning a rig with all the required street legal accessories will expand your riding territory exponentially.

If you’re unsure abut the street legal regulations in your area, check out the following sites for more information. And keep in mind that it’s always best to wear protective gear and operate your ATV/UTV safely -- which means abiding by speed limits and other rules of the road. Be sure to pay attention to the lingo used to describe ATV/UTV use. Many sites will refer to ATVs and UTVs as off-road vehicles (ORV) or off-highway vehicles (OHV). Either Acronym can apply to your Polaris Ranger.

Alabama: ATVs and UTVs not allowed on highways, regardless of their engine size or inclusion of street legal accessories like blinkersmirrors, and horns.

Alaska: ATVs and UTVs are for off-road use only, and can be registered to prevent theft. They cannot be driven on a highway.

Arizona: This state requires an annual purchase of an Off-Highway Vehicle Decal. For use on highways, the ATV/UTV has to be registered as if it were a regular vehicle, which includes things like insurance, registration fees, and emissions testing.

Arkansas: ATVs and UTVs must be registered. There is a one-time fee for title, registration, and decal.

California: Riders must have a safety helmet and cannot carry a passenger on public lands unless the ATV is designed for more than one passenger.

Colorado: ATVs and UTVs must be registered with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. You can renew in March and your registration is good through April of the next year. Registration is required at all times.

Connecticut: You can operate your ATV or UTV on your own land if you own it, but it has to be registered if you’re going to be using it anywhere else. A clearly visible registration plate is required, the ATV/UTV must have a muffler, and it cannot be operated on highways.

Delaware: Registration is required; UTVs and ATVs cannot be operated on public lands or highways and you must have permission for private property use.

District of Columbia: ATVs and UTVs cannot be operated on public property, they cannot be registered, and cannot be parked on public property either.

Florida: If the rider is under 16, they must wear a helmet. ATVs and UTVs like the Ranger 570, Ranger 900, and Ranger 1000 cannot be operated on highways, but they can be used by law enforcement officers. There is a workaround if you title your side-by-side out of state and then bring it back into Florida, but this is both difficult and expensive to do.

Georgia: ATVs and UTVs are not to be operated on public lands.

Hawaii: There are no ATVs or UTVs allowed in the Kekaha Game Management Area, or on public roads or highways.

Idaho: Owners have to buy and display a license plate to be used on public lands, but ATVs and UTVs cannot be on the highway. When on the road, ATV drivers have to carry a license and insurance.

Illinois: ATVs and UTVs cannot be driven on the street or highway.

Indiana: ATVs/UTVs must be registered.

Iowa: Registration is required.

Kansas: ATVs/UTVs have to be registered, cannot be used on the highway, and have to have lights on it if you want to ride during dark hours. There is no established age limit for riders.

Kentucky: ATVs/UTVs cannot be operated on the highway or public roads. Riders 16 years old and older have to wear a helmet.

Louisiana: Registration required.

Maine: ATVs/UTVs can be registered through Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, but cannot be used on the highway.

Maryland: Title and registration are required.

Massachusetts: If you’re under 18 years of age, you have to complete a safety course. ATVs/UTVs cannot be operated on highways and a helmet is required.

Michigan: If you want to use your ATV/UTV on public land, you have to have a decal. ATVs and UTVs cannot be driven on highways. They can, however, be modified and retitled for on-road use, so long as accessories including turn signals, a horn, windshield wipers, and street tires are installed.

Minnesota: ATVs and UTVs require registration.

Missouri: ATVs/UTVs cannot be used on the highway and require a title and registration.

Mississippi: There is no safety legislation on ATV/UTV use.

Montana: This state requires registration and ATVs/UTVs can be used on some public roads.  When you register your side-by-side, you have the option to choose between strictly off-road use or off-road and on-road use. It costs a little more to get both, but you do receive a permanent license plate so long as you have a street legal kit that includes a rear view mirror and a horn -- hand signals are legal for turn signals in Montana. Plus because there is no sales tax in Montana, many folks make the pilgrimage there to purchase their UTV or ATV at a discounted price.

Nebraska: This state requires titling but not registration for side-by-sides.

Nevada: Your ATV/UTV doesn’t need to be registered if you’re using it on private land for purposes like agriculture or husbandry, but it cannot be used on the highway.

New Hampshire: Registration is required in this state. If you’re 12 years of age or older, you need to either pass a safety course or have a driver's license. Children under 18 years old have to wear a helmet.

New Jersey: Your ATV/UTV doesn’t need a license but it does need to be registered. If you are under 18 years of age, you have to enroll in a safety class. You have to be at least 14 years old to operate your ATV/UTV and also have insurance.

New Mexico: ATVs/UTVs have to be registered. If you’re under 18, the law mandates that you must wear a helmet. You cannot carry a passenger, even if your ATV is designed for multiple passengers.

New York: ATVs/UTVs need to be registered, and registration expires on August 31 each year. Your ATV/UTV also has to be covered by insurance unless you’re operating on your own land. You don’t need a license to operate, but if you’re under 16 years old, you have to ride under adult supervision, or the ATV/UTV has to be operated on your own property.

The state of New York won't register any UTV over 1,000 Lbs. But there is a workaround whee you can register in Pennsylvania and ride in other states in accordance with the  reciprocity laws of the United States Constitution.

North Carolina: Operators have to be 16 or older.

North Dakota: Registration is required, and your ATV/UTV must have a headlamp and taillamp, muffler, and the unit cannot be operated on the highway.

Ohio: This state requires registration, headlights, tail lights, brakes, and a muffler.

Oklahoma: This state only requires a title and registration.

Oregon: You need a permit for your ATV if you wish to operate it on public lands.

Pennsylvania: This state requires registration.

Rhode Island: Your ATV/UTV has to have headlightstail lights, a muffler, and red rear reflector.

South Carolina: Operators must be over 6 years of age. All riders must wear eye protection and a helmet. If you’re 16 years of age or under, you can’t carry a passenger, and you have to be accompanied by an adult when operating.

South Dakota: ATVs with engines under 200cc and 3-wheeled ATVs cannot be licensed and cannot be operated on park roads. Helmets are required for operators under 18. ATVs/UTVs have to have a horn, headlight, brake light and rearview mirror, and require both a license and insurance to operate.

Tennessee: ATVs/UTVs cannot be driven on highways.

Texas: ATVs/UTVs can’t be driven on public roads unless you are a farmer or rancher and not traveling more than 25 miles. If you drive on public roads, you have to have an orange SMV triangle mounted to an 8-inch pole. Your ATV/UTV must have brakes, a muffler, head lights, and tail lights.

Utah: A helmet is required for persons under 18. Operators 8-15 years of age have to take a safety course.

Virginia: ATVs/UTVs have to have a title and cannot be operated on the highway. Riders have to be at least 18 years of age and wear a helmet.

Vermont: Your ATV/UTV has to be registered and have a decal unless operated on private property.

Washington: ATVs/UTVs cannot be operated on the highway.

West Virginia: ATVs/UTVs cannot be operated on the highway. A passenger cannot be under 18 years old if the operator is also under 18. Operators cannot carry a passenger unless allowed by the ATV/UTV’s manufacturer.

Wisconsin: It is legal to carry a passenger only if the ATV/UTV is made for one, and all Polaris Ranger vehicles are. ATVs/UTVs cannot be operated on the highway.

Wyoming: Operators can only carry as many passengers as there are seats, and must possess a driver’s license to operate their Ranger in state parks.

Even within states, each county, city, and governing municipality can have different rules regarding the on-road use of off-road vehicles. The laws will vary depending on the type of road as well as the governing body that has jurisdiction over it. Laws are also subject to change periodically, and as more and more riders begin to pressure politicians, join community boards, and actively voice their opinions, we expect more liberalization with each passing year. So if you are unhappy with the UTV / ATV laws in your area, join your local UTV lobby, call, email, or write your local politicians, or propose legislation similar to another state or county's street legal rules during a city council meeting. 

Although they're made for off-roading, it's hard to bring your vehicle up to its  top speed on bumpy trails full of twists and turns. Running errands in your street legal Polaris Ranger can be less of a chore and more of a journey, and putting around town on evening joy rides in a Polaris Ranger is a great way to relax and unwind after a stressful day at work. If you want to make your rig compliant with the rules of the road, we're here to help. EverythingPolarisRanger.com has everything you need to make your Polaris Ranger street legal. Shop our Street Legal product selection for your Mid-size Polaris Ranger, Full-size Polaris Ranger, Polaris Ranger Crew or Polaris General.

And remember, always be safe, and always have fun! Otherwise, what's the point?