What States Are Side by Sides Street Legal? A Comprehensive Guide 2023

Are you a fan of street legal side by sides and curious about where you can legally drive them on public roads? With varying regulations across the United States, understanding where and how side by sides can be made street legal is essential for enthusiasts and owners. The question “What states are side by sides street legal?” is a common one, and the answer can be complex. In some areas, side by sides may be readily adapted to road use, while in others, legal use might be more restrictive. In this comprehensive guide for 2023, we’ll explore the laws, regulations, and requirements, answering the critical question, “Can side by sides be street legal?” By diving into a state-by-state analysis, we’ll help you navigate the landscape of legalities, ensuring you have the information needed to enjoy your side by side within the bounds of the law. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a newcomer to the world of side by sides, this guide will clarify where and how these thrilling vehicles can be made street legal across the country.

Understanding Side by Sides: What Makes Them Street Legal?

The world of side by sides, or utility task vehicles (UTVs), offers endless possibilities for outdoor adventure and utility. However, one crucial question for many enthusiasts is: “What makes side by sides street legal?” To answer this, we’ll explore the specific requirements and common modifications needed.

Requirements for Street-Legal Side by Sides

Making side by sides street legal isn’t as simple as taking them from the trail to the road. There are several requirements that must be met, and these often vary by state:

  • Vehicle Registration: Similar to cars and motorcycles, street legal side by sides must be registered with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  • Safety Equipment: Features such as seat belts, mirrors, turn signals, brake lights, and headlights are typically required for street legality.
  • Insurance: Road-legal side by sides need to have proper insurance coverage.
  • Emissions Compliance: In some states, side by sides must meet specific emissions standards.
  • Speed Limitations: Certain states might have speed restrictions for side by sides on public roads.

It’s essential to consult your local DMV or equivalent regulatory body to understand exactly what requirements apply in your state.

Common Modifications and Safety Equipment

To meet the above requirements, many side by sides need modifications:

  • Mirrors: Installing side and rearview mirrors aids in safe driving on public roads.
  • Lights: Headlights, turn signals, and brake lights are often required to make side by sides street legal.
  • Windshields and Wipers: Depending on your state’s regulations, a windshield and wipers might be necessary.
  • Horn: A functioning horn that can be heard from a specific distance is another common requirement.
  • Exhaust System Modifications: To meet noise and emissions standards, changes to the exhaust system might be needed.

These modifications not only ensure that you comply with the law but also enhance safety when you drive side by sides on the road.

In conclusion, making side by sides street legal is a process that requires understanding and complying with specific state regulations and standards. By meeting these requirements and making the necessary modifications, enthusiasts can enjoy the thrill of driving their side by sides not just off the road but on public streets as well. Always consult local authorities to ensure complete legal compliance.

State-by-State Analysis: Where Are Side by Sides Street Legal?

Western States: Regulations and Requirements

  1. Alaska: No general allowance; exceptions for crossing roads, bridges, and ice/snow-covered highways.
  2. Arizona: Must meet car-like requirements including registration, title, insurance, and possible emissions testing. Off-road use registration fee is lower.
  3. California: Highly restricted with few exceptions such as specially marked combined-use roads.
  4. Colorado: Generally not allowed on state roads; local counties make their own decisions.
  5. Hawaii: Not allowed unless for agricultural purposes in less populated counties.
  6. Idaho: Requires registration, insurance, and a driver’s license. Helmets required for those under 18.
  7. Nevada: Prohibited on paved roads except for authorized trail crossings.
  8. New Mexico: Not allowed on public roads except for crossing.
  9. Oregon: Allowed on unmaintained roads.
  10. Utah: Allowed when permitted by local authority.
  11. Washington: Allowed on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less, unless blocked by local law.

Midwestern States: A Look at Local Laws

  1. Illinois: Not allowed except for crossing.
  2. Indiana: Not allowed on public highways, roads, or parking lots, with some exceptions.
  3. Iowa: Not allowed on public roads or highways with minor exceptions.
  4. Kansas: Restricted in cities with more than 15,000 people; cities can set own rules.
  5. Michigan: Generally not allowed; can be made street-legal but rarely due to high costs.
  6. Minnesota: UTVs may be operated on the shoulder if permitted by local authority.
  7. Missouri: Banned except for agricultural use or as approved by local authority.
  8. Nebraska: Only allowed for agricultural use outside incorporated areas.
  9. North Dakota: Restricted to ditch bottom next to the highway.
  10. Ohio: Authorized by local authority; never on highways except to cross.
  11. South Dakota: Allowed if engine larger than 200 cc; not on interstate highways.
  12. Wisconsin: Prohibited except for agricultural use with permission.

Southern States: Exploring Street Legality

  1. Alabama: No registration or insurance required; restricted to non-highway use.
  2. Arkansas: One-time registration; can operate outside city limits and off interstates.
  3. Delaware: Not allowed.
  4. Florida: Allowed with required upgrades; very friendly to off-road vehicles.
  5. Georgia: Authority given to local governments.
  6. Kentucky: Not allowed on highways or roadways.
  7. Louisiana: Limited to agricultural use near the farmer’s farm.
  8. Mississippi: Not allowed.
  9. North Carolina: Prohibited except for crossings; exceptions for agricultural activities.
  10. Oklahoma: Allowed only by local authority.
  11. South Carolina: Decision left to local authority.
  12. Tennessee: Only allowed for crossing a two-lane highway.
  13. Texas: Prohibited except for agricultural purposes.
  14. Virginia: Not allowed except for farming purposes.
  15. West Virginia: Allowed on the shoulder when traveling between trails.

Northeastern States: Understanding Regional Rules

  1. Connecticut: Must be registered for anything other than private property use.
  2. Maine: Annual registration; equipped with safety equipment; limited to roads with 45 mph or less speed limits.
  3. Maryland: Not permitted on public roads except for agricultural purposes.
  4. Massachusetts: Not allowed.
  5. New Hampshire: Not allowed except for emergencies or authorized situations.
  6. New Jersey: Not allowed except for crossing.
  7. New York: Allowed only on posted highways.
  8. Pennsylvania: Only allowed on posted roads.
  9. Rhode Island: Not allowed except for crossing or emergencies.
  10. Vermont: Where local authority has authorized.
  11. Wyoming: Use on roads is prohibited.

These regulations highlight the complex and often inconsistent legal environment surrounding side-by-sides in the United States. Consultation with local DMVs or authorities is strongly recommended, as these details are subject to change and may vary by specific jurisdiction within a state.

Can Side by Sides Be Street Legal Everywhere? A Look at Local Ordinances

Certainly! Let’s explore the legalities and regulations of side-by-sides on a more localized level, taking into account city, county, and rural vs. urban differences.

City and County Differences

While we have a comprehensive overview of state laws, it is essential to recognize that side-by-side legality can further vary between cities and counties within a state. Here’s a look at some common distinctions:

  • Local Authority: In many states, local authorities have the final say on whether side-by-sides are allowed on public roads. For example, in states like Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, cities and counties may set their rules, leading to discrepancies within the same state.
  • City Size and Restrictions: In some areas, cities with larger populations may have stricter rules. For example, Kansas does not allow side-by-sides on public roads in cities of greater than 15,000 people, while smaller cities may have more permissive laws.
  • County Approvals: Depending on the state, county approval may be necessary to operate side-by-sides on county roads. This process can lead to differing rules across county lines.

Rural vs. Urban Regulations

The regulations for side-by-sides also vary significantly between rural and urban environments:

  • Rural Roads: In many states, side-by-sides can be operated on rural roads with lower speed limits or on roads specifically designated for off-road vehicle use. Rural areas often have more relaxed regulations, recognizing the agricultural and recreational uses of these vehicles.
  • Urban Restrictions: Urban areas, with higher traffic density and speed limits, often place more restrictions on side-by-sides. Some states prohibit their use entirely on public roads within city limits, while others may limit their use to certain streets or require extensive modifications to make the vehicles street legal.
  • Agricultural Purposes: In states like Texas, Louisiana, and Virginia, side-by-sides are allowed on public roads exclusively for agricultural purposes, a provision more likely to apply in rural areas.

The Process of Making Side by Sides Street Legal: A How-to Guide

Sure! Making a side-by-side street legal is a process that varies widely depending on local laws and regulations. But here’s a general guide that covers the steps typically involved. Please note that these steps can differ significantly by jurisdiction, so it’s essential to consult local authorities for precise requirements.

Registration and Licensing

  1. Research Local Laws: Determine the specific rules and regulations for side-by-sides in your state, county, and city. Some locations may not allow side-by-sides on public roads at all.
  2. Gather Necessary Documents: This may include proof of ownership, a bill of sale, identification, and more.
  3. Complete Application Forms: Obtain and fill out the necessary forms for vehicle registration and licensing from your local DMV or equivalent agency.
  4. Pay Fees: Pay any required registration and licensing fees. These can vary widely by jurisdiction.
  5. Obtain License Plate: If approved, you will be issued a license plate to affix to your side-by-side.

Inspection and Compliance

  1. Determine Required Modifications: Local laws may require specific modifications to make your side-by-side street legal. Common requirements might include headlights, taillights, mirrors, seat belts, turn signals, and more.
  2. Make Necessary Modifications: Have the required modifications professionally installed or do them yourself if you’re qualified.
  3. Schedule an Inspection: Arrange for a certified inspection by a qualified professional or agency to verify compliance with all local regulations.
  4. Make Any Required Adjustments: If the vehicle fails the inspection, make necessary repairs or adjustments and have it re-inspected.
  5. Receive Inspection Certification: Once your side-by-side passes inspection, obtain the necessary certification or documentation.

Insurance and Other Legal Considerations

  1. Research Insurance Requirements: Determine what insurance is required in your jurisdiction for side-by-sides on public roads.
  2. Obtain Quotes: Contact insurance providers for quotes and choose the best coverage for your needs.
  3. Purchase Insurance: Buy the necessary insurance coverage.
  4. Consider Liability: Understand the legal liabilities involved in operating a side-by-side on public roads, including potential restrictions on where you can drive and responsibilities in the event of an accident.
  5. Stay Updated: Laws and regulations can change. Regularly review local rules and your insurance policy to ensure continued compliance.

Making a side-by-side street legal can be a complex and time-consuming process. The above steps provide a general guide, but specific requirements can vary widely by location. Always consult local authorities and professional services to understand the exact rules and regulations for your jurisdiction. Following these regulations will not only keep you legal but also ensure the safety of both you and other road users.

Resources and Tools: Finding Information on Your State’s Laws

Certainly! When it comes to making your side-by-side street legal, understanding your state’s specific laws is crucial. Here’s how you can find information related to your state’s regulations:

Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Equivalent Agency

  • Website: Most states have a DMV or equivalent agency with detailed information online about vehicle regulations.
  • In-Person Visit: You can visit a local office for personal assistance.
  • Phone Support: Call your local DMV for guidance.

State Legislature or Government Websites

  • Search for Relevant Laws: Many state websites will have a searchable database of statutes and regulations, where you can look up specific laws related to side-by-sides or off-road vehicles.
  • Find Official Documents: Look for official publications or guides related to vehicle regulations.

Local Law Enforcement Agencies

  • Consult Local Police: They often have knowledge about local ordinances related to vehicle use on public roads.
  • Obtain Written Guidelines: Some agencies may provide pamphlets or guides with relevant information.

Local County or City Websites

  • Check Municipal Regulations: Local ordinances may have additional restrictions or requirements, so be sure to check city and county websites.

Online Communities and Forums

  • Join Relevant Groups: There may be online communities or forums dedicated to side-by-side enthusiasts in your state.
  • Ask Experienced Users: Engage with experienced users who have gone through the process.

Professional Legal or Vehicle Modification Services

  • Consult an Attorney: If you have complex questions, a local attorney specializing in vehicle law might be necessary.
  • Visit Vehicle Modification Shops: Shops specializing in side-by-sides or off-road vehicle modifications often have experience with local regulations.

Insurance Providers

  • Ask Your Insurance Agent: They may be aware of specific requirements for insuring side-by-sides for street use.


  • Consult Legal Guides: Many libraries offer legal guides and references related to state laws.
  • Ask Librarians for Assistance: Librarians often have the expertise to help you find the information you need.


When it comes to understanding the legality of using street legal side by sides, regulations vary across different states and local jurisdictions. Many individuals often ask, “Are side by sides street legal?” or “What states are side by sides street legal?” The answer to “Can side by sides be street legal?” depends on specific state laws and local ordinances. In some areas, road legal side by sides are common, while in others, there may be restrictions on “Can you drive side by sides on the road?” Knowing what side by sides are street legal in your region is vital to comply with local regulations. If you are looking to understand “Can you make side by sides street legal?” or want to find out “Where are side by sides street legal?” a thorough investigation of local laws is essential. Even in places where are any side by sides street legal, requirements and procedures for making them legal on the road may vary. Always consult local authorities or legal resources to determine the exact rules in your area regarding street-legal side by sides.

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