If you’ve recently purchased an ATV as well as one of those cool ATV helmets and everything else needed for off-road adventures, then you might also be interested in knowing if and how you can ride such a vehicle on public roads. It’s no secret that ATVs and UTVs are super fun, but you also need to comply with the law.
The good part is that laws and regulations tend to differ from one state to another, so it might be possible to legally ride an ATV on the streets of your city or area. Moreover, you can also equip the vehicle with everything necessary to make it legal, but first, you need to take a look and see what local regulations apply in your case.
Since in some states it’s completely illegal to ride such vehicles on public roads, while in others you are good to go after some simple formalities, it’s always a good idea to talk to someone in the local administration in order to get the right directions and information.
Furthermore, many times making an ATV legal is not actually that difficult, although it might cost you a couple of hundred dollars. However, if you think about how expensive a ticket can be if you risk riding it around unregistered or without a license, then you shouldn’t hesitate to spend this money on making it suitable for public roads.
Some reasons for which to make your ATV legal
If you are still wondering whether making your ATV legal is worth the cost, then you should consider some of the main benefits you can enjoy. First of all, it’s convenient, since you won’t have to take your car anytime you feel like going for a little adventure in the woods. If it’s a nice and sunny day out and you don’t feel like loading the ATV into your truck, you won’t have to.
Of course, this also depends on the distance, but for those convenient and nearby favorite riding spots, having an ATV that can be legally ridden on public roads is ideal. Imagine going around a farm, to the beach, or on secluded trails without all the hassle of having to load the ATV into another vehicle.
Another reason for which you should definitely consider making your ATV legal is that it’s fun since you’ll be able to customize it just like you would a car or a motorcycle. But the difference is that an ATV can do tricks that regular vehicles cannot during off-road adventures.
Of course, you should only ride an ATV where it’s legal to do so. If you are not sure about a certain area, it’s better to take a bit of time and check beforehand, just to avoid any fine that could otherwise ruin your fun.
And last, but not least, you should consider making your ATV legal because it’s actually easy to do so in most states. There are not that many steps involved in making such a vehicle street legal, so you can take the time and research what the requirements are in your area.
If you don’t have too much time on your hands, there are specialized services that can take the entire process off your hands.
How can you make an ATV legal?
Each state has different rules, regulations, and laws when it comes to motor vehicles. You should also be careful since some states don’t explicitly say whether you should ride an ATV on public roads, but the law can include certain particularities regarding seat belts, carrying passengers, or fenders, that can make an ATV illegal.
However, if you don’t want to hire the services of a company to help you with all the details, then you should at least have an idea about what the main requirements might entail. In the following lines, we’ll see what some of these are, to give you a hand.
Among the items and pieces that you might need to add to your vehicle in order to safely and legally ride it on public roads, there’s usually a horn, license plate lights and holder, blinkers (with the required controls for comfortable operation), as well as mirrors.
Moreover, since adding some extra safety is always a good policy, you should consider getting some good street tires for the ATV as well. Of course, this depends on how often you intend to ride it on pavement and on the area you live in, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
What street tires can bring you is the extra grip to comfortably and safely tackle corners, as well as for enhanced braking. Also, since we’re talking about safety, it’s a good moment to mention that you should get a tether kill switch. If you are still getting the hang of what operating an ATV entails, this may be a new concept to you.
This little device is very useful, since you can attach it to the wrist or gear, and in the unfortunate event of an accident during which you fall off the unit, the engine will be turned off. We know that this is not something you want to think about, but the truth is that an ATV on the loose can create a lot more damage than needed.
You may also need to purchase and add a bright headlight, adapted for road conditions. While most ATV headlights work very well for riding around forests or a farm, they are not powerful enough for public streets, especially if we’re talking about those in the middle of nowhere, where bright city lights cannot help.
As any seasoned driver knows very well, brighter is always better, especially if you are in an area that has deers and other animals that might get on the road.
What about some examples of states and their regulations?
When it comes to this, we’ve already mentioned that you should check the laws that apply in your particular area, but there are some general rules that most states have in common. For example, in Alabama and Alaska, as well as in most of the other ones, you cannot ride an ATV on highways.
Alaska only allows ATVs for off-road use and the vehicles can be registered only to prevent theft. The same cannot be said about Arizona, as this state allows users to register ATVs and UTVs just as if they were regular vehicles, and they can also be used on highways.
If we’re going toward California, we learn that users need to wear safety helmets at all times and that they cannot carry a passenger unless the ATV is specially designed to allow more than one person riding it. In Connecticut, these vehicles need to be registered if they are operated outside of private property, and a registration plate is required.
This is better than in Delaware, where registration is required as well, but ATVs and UTVs cannot be used on public property at all. The same goes for the District of Columbia. In Idaho, on the other hand, users can operate the vehicles on public roads as long as they have insurance and they carry a license.
If someone younger plans on riding an ATV and lives in Kansas, then he or she is in luck since there is no age limit established for riders there. The same cannot be said about other states that require riders to be at least 16 or 18 years old.
No matter where you live, some general information is always available online, so you can quickly check and see at least the level of regulation that applies in your state.
However, do keep in mind that laws can also change throughout time, so don’t rely on the information you find online alone, because you might get a fine if something has recently changed and hasn’t made it into online articles yet.