How To Make An ATV or UTV Street Legal

In ATV Setups by Kevin

While most people that ride ATVs will only do so in a trail, while offroading, in a backyard or even in a farm, there are other folks that want to use their quad in paved roads. and there are several reasons why people want and will ride on the streets. one of them is because they want to check out the top speed of their quad in a straight line or they want to run errands or just cruise on a quad. the other reason is that maybe you don’t have a truck or other method of transportation to actually move the quad from your home to a trail or an MX track. thankfully, there are ways to modify your quad to actually make it street legal.

How do you make an ATV street legal? It honestly depends a lot on which state you are going to be riding on because they all have different laws that you are going to have to comply, for example, if you are going to be riding in Georgia you are going to have to do a buttload of mods to your ATV or UTV, but if you are going to ride in let’s say Arizona, it’s a little bit easier. anyways, for most states, you are going to have to do a few things like installing headlights, mirrors, seatbelts, and in a few of them you are even going to have to buy insurance and have a title for the ATV or UTV.

And if you live in a state that lets you modify the quad, then doing the conversion to street legal isn’t that hard. I believe that you can do the whole process for under $300 for most states. you can also pay somebody so that they can do the conversion for you. if you are interested in actually knowing about what the specific requirements for each state are or want to know which equipment you need to install in your ATV or UTV, then read on!

Before I go ahead and tell you how to street legalize your ATV or side by side, I want to speak about who should and shouldn’t mod their quad.

People That Should Make Their Quad Street Legal:

Not everyone has a full-size pickup or even a ramp available. if that is your case, then modding your quad to make it street legal is a good option

People that do not have a reliable way to transport their quad. if you do not have a pickup then you certainly benefit from a street legal UTV or ATV. you can simply just ride your quad to the trail that you want to offroad on or the track that you want to ride. this is the 1# reason why people do these conversions.

People that do not have a trail or MX tracks nearby. if you do not have anywhere to ride, then riding in the streets is the only option. not every neighborhood has a decent woody or offroading area nearby to use the quad to its full potential, so modifying the quad to ride in paved roads is a given.

People who want to run errands/go shopping on the UTV or quad. for those who do not have a car, modifying an ATV or UTV might be a good idea to get yourself to a grocery store or even pick up your kids from their friend house or similar if you have a UTV. you could even go to work with the quad if you feel like it.

Who Shouldn’t Street Legalize Their ATV

People who live in states that do not give the possibility to street legalize your quad. in some states, there’s no way to actually drive your quad legally on the street, like for example Texas.  I provide a list below of the states that actually allow you to do to the conversion, so check it out and if your state doesn’t allow for conversions, then buying the mods is obviously going to be a waste of money

People who live in cities and towns with lax laws. Many of the states that have laws prohibiting UTV use on public roads do not always enforce them. states like Ohio and Missouri are kind of lax when it comes to ATV rules and so even though ATVs cannot be made street legal there, people break those rules all the time.

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Required Mods And Equipment To Street Legalize Your Quad

While like I said a few paragraphs ago, every state is going to be different. however, there are some common modifications that are required in pretty much every state. these include Headlamps, Taillights, Turn Signals, Horn, Rearview mirrors, and Muffler. there are some states that might even require a windshield or a speedometer.

Since most ATVs do not have headlights or taillights, you are going to have to get yourself a good pair and install them to your machine

  • Headlights: Headlamps are pretty much mandatory on all states and the authorities require for the headlights to meet several requirements. the specific headlights that are allowed will depend on your state or county laws. while there are some ATVs that come with headlights that meet state requirements, there are other ones that either do not meet the guidelines or do not have headlights period. if that’s the case, you are going to have to install a pair a set of headlights to your quad.
  • Taillights: Just like you need to get headlights for the front, you are also going to have to get some taillights for the rear too. most states require you to get red taillights just like cars. if your quad has taillights, they may not meet state requirements, so you are going to have to look for something that won’t break any state rules.
  • Turn Signals: Most states require functional turn signals in street-legal vehicles, so you are going to have to get one of these. while I don’t think that you are ever going to be using these in the streets, state inspectors usually check for working turn signals in the ATV street legal assessment so they probably will not approve your quad without one of these. thankfully this is an easy mod and there are several installation kits available online. these usually come with the lights, a way to securely attach them to the quad, instructions on how to do so, and the switch to operate the actual lights. they also usually come with other required equipment to legalize your quad like for example a horn.
  • Horn: Horns is another installation that is super important. it’s pretty easy to be involved in an ATV accident, especially when riding on the streets, so even if your state doesn’t require a horn, installing one is something that I would recommend, particularly if you are going to be riding on roads with a lot of cars. I posted an installation kit in the turn signal section that actually comes with a horn so that you don’t have to spend extra money on a standalone one.
  • Rearview mirrors: Another requirement is getting some rearview mirrors just like your car has. some states just need for you to install one at the left of the ATV (Utah) and there are other states that require one of the left and one on the right (Minnesota). it might be a little bit challenging to make a DIY mirror installation because there is less space where to install it, so getting a mirror installation kit might be wise. the mirror kit that I linked to attaches to the handlebars, and there are a few states that do not allow you to do that, so check with your state authorities or below to make sure that you can install them on a moving part.
  • Muffler: Since quads are so loud, getting a proper muffler is paramount. and there are also state laws that require a certain level of gas emissions for street-legal vehicles. this is something that will be checked if your state has a certification process to see if your quad complies with emission laws.
  • This is how the windshield looks when installed on the quad

    Windshield: This is not just something mandatory, but this is for your safety too. you want all the bugs, debris, and wind to hit the glass and not you. the windshield is installed in the front part of the quads chassis or the handlebar itself with screws and they come in different styles and shapes. there are glass and plastic windshields and the quality varies depending on the price. state regulators are pretty lax when it comes to windshields so as long as it comes a sufficient part of the rider’s upper body it should be fine. This windshield is the best option in the market right now. it has 2 versions: a normal and a rapid release mount which allows you to remove the windshield easily if you plan on also offroading with the quad that you are trying to mod.

  • Speedometer: Not all states require this and I hope that yours doesn’t, because this can be a quite complicated mod if your quad doesn’t have one already installed. if your quad is missing one, I would recommend that you get an OEM one that gives you the specific instructions on how to do the mod without damaging the quads internals. most third party speedometers are pretty badly made so I would advise that you pass on them and get something that is OEM.

Other Things That You May Need:

Other than the mods that I mentioned above, there are a few other things that might be necessary to ride your quad on the road, like insurance, the title of the ATV, a driver’s license, plates in the front and the back, and more.

Insurance: While this might not be needed for a normal quad that is not going to ride on the streets, you are going to have to start paying insurance if you want to ride on public roads. and this works just like car insurance. Companies like Geico and Statefarm will also work with ATVs and side by sides and it’s usually quite cheaper than what you would pay for a car one. if they for some reason do not provide the insurance, looking for it from another company online might be warranted.

Title & Registration: Your ATV must be registered and you must have a valid title showing ownership of the quad. you are also going to have to take copies of your documents with your quad because you are honestly going to be pulled over often. the first thing that cops ask when they stop you are the title and the registration so to avoid hassles make sure you have those handy.

Driver’s license: This is pretty obvious. some states do not require this but you should still have it handy. why? because since street legal ATVs are pretty rare, I think there are sometimes that cops do not even know what is the procedure on those cases. they might ask for a driver’s license even if it’s not mandatory.

License plates front and back: This is mandatory on most states, and might even be required for offroading use. your local Department of Licensing or the Department of Motor Vehicles is usually the department that handles the plates so visit them to get a valid plate. you are going to have to give them the title or registration of the quad, or both. the plates might also be available when you do the quad inspection, which brings me to the next point.

Inspection: After you have all the mods that are required in your quad, it’s time for the inspection. these are usually done on the department of licensing, or in a federal land or national park administration. it will vary state by state so call those departments and speak to them about street-legal ATVs or UTVs. they will tell you where you need to go to do the inspection.

How Much Money Is This Going To Cost?

Depending on what is needed for your state, the total cost of everything including mods and insurance will be about between $300 to $700 dollars. it’s going to also depend on where you are buying the mods. there are some modifications that I recommend buying from the manufacturer itself and they can be quite expensive. but you can always go off-brand if needed to save cash. if you aren’t sure how to install the mods, then getting professional help might be wise, but you obviously going to have to pay for that too. and it might be quite the penny depending on who’s going to do the work and how many mods must be installed. Below I provide an estimate of how much money each part is going to cost you.

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ATV & UTV Laws For Every State:

  • Alabama – AL: ATV laws in Alabama are really vague, and hard to find. from the research that I made, you are going to need to install a windshield, a horn, a rearview mirror, and you also need insurance for the quad. you are also going to have to install turn signals. after this, you need to go to your local MVD office (Alabama locations in this link) with the title on hand. from what I have heard, many people from this state drive on public roads with their quads without any issues with the law. so conversion might not be necessary.
  • Arizona – AZ: It’s really easy to street legalize your quad or side by side in this state. the things that you need are a horn, a spark arrestor installed in the machine, a license plate light, a rearview mirror, a brake light, headlights, taillights, and insurance. you are also going to need an OHV decal, a registration license plate. you can get both of those at your local MVD office. a more detailed explanation of what you need can be found in this PDF   
  • Arkansas – AR: It’s going to be pretty much impossible to street legalize an ATV here, according to a few sources. it’s a bit easier with a UTV or side by side, but more often than not you are going to be pulled over by the cops. most of the stuff that you need for other states apply here. after that, you can go to your local MVD or DMV and get a license plate, but most likely they won’t be able to provide you with one. the official law says that “It is unlawful for any person to operate an all-terrain vehicle on the public streets and highways of this state, even if the vehicle otherwise meets the equipment standards of § 27-20-104″
  • California – CA: From what I have researched, there is no way to convert an ATV or side by side to street legal in this state. Cali has no official street legal side by side conversion procedure, plus most quads do not really pass the state’s strict emission standards. you can try calling CARB (California Air Resources Board) to see if they can give you info about how you can mod your quad to make it comply with the rules, but other than that, I don’t think there’s much to do here.
  • Colorado – CO: The official Colorado state laws explicitly prohibit ATV and Side By Side use on public roads, however, this law is not always enforced. there are also some counties that have made their own laws that permit ATV and UTV use on paved roads, but you are going to need to get an OHV permit and comply with Colorado’s noise pollution laws first. this article has a list of the counties that allow ATV use on public roads, so check if your county is there. the next step after that should be getting in contact with the county’s office and asking for what else is needed to ride legally.
  • Connecticut – CT: Riding an ATV on the streets here is a definite no-no. it seems that Connecticut police is handing down some hefty fines to those that break the rules so I honestly would just avoid risking it and instead just ride offroad only. the same thing applies for Dirtbikes.
  • Delaware – DE: It’s not possible to ride legally on paved roads here. just like Connecticut, if you ride on-road, the cops are going to give you a hard time.
  • Florida – FL: The official laws say that you cannot drive an ATV on the street legally here, however it seems that there are a few loopholes that you can take advantage of in order to ride on public roads. I checked this website out and they claim that they can convert an ATV to street legal, complete with title, registration, and license plate. even if you pay those guys to convert your quad, the cops will still probably harass you.
  • Georgia – GA: Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to ride on the streets legally in Georgia. every county has it’s own rules though. you are going to have to get everything I mentioned above, including turn signals, taillights, a windshield, and you also need to install DOT approved street tires. you also need insurance, a title, and you need to get it registered on the DMV.
  • Hawaii – HI: From what I have checked, Hawaii has very strict ATV laws. riding on the beach is a big No-No, and even if you mod your quad with everything necessary (turn signals, windshield, seatbelts, etc..), you still are probably going to have a rough time everytime Hawaii Police sees you riding around. emissions and loudness are other reasons why Hawaii is not a quad friendly state.
  • Idaho – ID: It’s possible to ride legally on the streets in Idaho. the only things that you are going to need are turn signals, brake lights, headlights, a restricted use license plate, an OHV registration sticker showing on the license plate, insurance, a driver’s license, a spark arrestor, and a muffler. you also need a horn installed, and rear and side mirrors. you can get the OHV sticker and the restricted license plate at the Idaho Transportation Department. and remember that even if you do convert the quad to street legal, you still cannot drive in any highway.
  • Illinois – IL: There’s a state law in Illinois that allows ATVs and UTVs to ride in any street that has a 35 MPH speed limit. and your quad is going to need the usual stuff, like turn signals, brake lights, mirrors, and also you need to get an SMV (Slow Moving Vehicle) sign on the back of the ATV or side by side. also, I’m not 100% sure about this but I think that you need to have a title and register the quad too.
  • Indiana – IN: Statewise, Driving quads and UTVs on public roads in Indiana is illegal, but some counties have a specific statute indicating otherwise. the first thing you are going to do is register your ride with Indiana’s BMV. they will also ask you for the title of the quad so make sure that you have that ready. when it comes to equipment, I’m honestly not sure what is needed in this state so when you go to the BMV ask for what you need to install in the quad to make it road legal. anyways, I also checked the internet for a list of all the counties that permit ATV use on-road, and I found this map. if your county is colored green, that means that you can ride on public roads and you won’t have a problem with the cops.
  • Iowa – IA: Not really sure if you can ride legally here. laws in Iowa are kind of vague, and the only reliable information that I found says that you only ride on designated areas.
  • Kansas – KS: You can ride legally in Kansas, however only in second and third class cities. and Kansas law defines these as any city that has less than 25,000 people living in it. so sadly people living in cities like Wichita, Topeka or Kansas City won’t be able to ride legally, any big city basically. but if you live in a small town, then there won’t be a problem with going for a ride on the streets. in fact, you don’t even need to register the ATV. the only things that you are going to need are a driver’s license and working headlights and taillights if you are going to ride at night and that’s it.
  • Kentucky – KY: It’s not possible to street-legalize your quad here. quads are mostly used for farm work in this state, but there has been a small but vocal group of recreational ATV enthusiasts that have been working to make them street legal though. they even made a petition and are asking for signatures.
  • Louisiana – LA: Louisiana official laws state that you can only ride ATVs on the shoulders of a road, but in practice, ATVs are ridden on the streets all the time. the official info states that you need to have headlights, taillights, parking brake, a windshield, an odometer and speedometer, and a seatbelt installed to ride UTVs legally. Louisiana, however, is very lax when it comes to enforcing ATV laws, so as long as you stay away from any crowded roads and highways, you won’t have any problems.
  • Maine – ME: There’s a lot of contradicting info about Maine. I can’t even find a law specifically prohibiting ATV use on the streets, so I’m honestly not sure about this state. calling a state agency or asking on an ATV forum might be warranted.
  • Maryland – MD: It’s impossible to ride ATVs on public roads legally in this state. Maryland has some pretty well-defined laws which mostly restricts ATV use to farm work and offroad use and from what I have heard they enforce these laws so.
  • Massachusetts – MA: Contrary to popular belief, ATVs and UTVs are NOT road legal here. there is no procedure to convert your quad to street legal status. Mass has a lot of restrictions when it comes to quads and UTV so I would recommend that you follow their rules to avoid problems with the law.
  • Michigan – MI: Officially, you cannot drive quads legally here. there’s even some information indicating that you cannot modify them for street use either. just like Louisiana though, these laws aren’t always enforced, especially in smaller towns.
  • Minnesota – MN: Using ATVs on public roads in Minnesota is officially allowed. and even better: you don’t need to do any mods to your quad to make it legal! the only thing that is needed is a muffler which your UTV or quad probably has already and installing a set of mirrors.
  • Mississippi – MS: In Mississippi, you can drive on the street with no problem. the only thing that you are going to need is a Mississippi driver’s license and that’s it. I’m not completely sure if there are any mods needed though so if in doubt, I would recommend getting in contact with your local license department. anyways, also try to avoid riding on any highway and you should be fine.
  • Missouri – MO: It seems like the only way to ride legally on the streets here is to get a special permit from the state, and it’s a $15 dollar charge. just call your local DMV and ask for ATV street permits.
  • Montana – MT: It’s possible to ride your quad in the streets legally in Montana, but there are a few things that you need to do first. number 1, you need to go ahead and register your ATV or side by side as a motor vehicle in the Vehicle Services Bureau which is the department that handles that. riding quads in the streets is a common practice in Montana so it should be a quick and easy process. you should be leaving their offices with a brand new license plate in your machine of choice. number 2, you are going to mod your quad with the necessary stuff. Montana asks for headlights, taillights, side and back mirrors, a horn, and turn signals. I would also advise getting a windshield however this is not necessary. it’s also required to have a valid driver’s license.
  • Nebraska – NE: UTVs are road legal here, but NOT ATVs though. Nebraska law requires headlights, taillights, a horn, mirrors, and a seatbelt. you also need liability insurance. UTVs also must be registered with the state and they cannot reach speeds higher than 35 MPH
  • Nevada – NV: I was checking the internet for information regarding Nevada and I found this link. that webpage explains pretty much everything that you need to do to ride on the streets legally. from what I checked, only side by sides can be driven legally.
  • New Hampshire – NH: Driving legally in New Hampshire is legal, and from what I checked, you need a driver’s license or a valid safety certificate. I couldn’t find any concrete information regarding the mods that you need to install, so I’ll just assume that you can drive the ATVs stock.
  • New Jersey – NJ: ATVs and UTVs are not allowed to ride on public roads here. strangely, golf carts and dirtbikes can ride on the streets here though.
  • New Mexico – NM: Riding ATVs on paved roads used to be illegal here, but a few years ago there was a new law introduced that made riding legally a possibility. luckily, you don’t need to extensively modify your quad or UTV much to go for a spin. you only need to install mirrors, headlights, and a muffler if the quad doesn’t have one already. you also need to go to your local Motor Vehicle Division and get your quad registered with them and you also need to get a special plate too. you are also going to need a driver’s license and liability insurance.
  • New York – NY: ATVs are not road legal in New York. states in the east coast generally do not allow ATV riding alongside cars.
  • North Carolina – NC: It’s impossible to convert a quad to street legal status in this state. you can only ride on offroad areas and in farms.
  • North Dakota – ND: ATVs can be made street legal here but I cannot what you must install to ride them though. the only thing that I know is that you need a driver’s license. try calling your local DMV for help.
  • Ohio – OH: Officially, It’s illegal to ride side by sides and ATVs on-road. but people break this law all the time. there is no official list of mods that you need to install because of that. from what I have heard, there are a few loopholes but I do not know them though.
  • Oklahoma – OK: OKC does not allow ATVs and side by side in their roads. it seems that they are going to introduce new laws in the future officially permitting ATV use, but right now it’s illegal.
  • Oregon – OR: Oregon doesn’t allow ATVs in their streets. they only allow quad use in offroading conditions
  • Pennsylvania – PA: The only streets that you can ride legally on are roads that have been specifically designated for ATV use, and they are few and far between.
  • Rhode Island – RI: Rhode Island doesn’t allow for legal operation of ATV or dirtbikes on public roads. and it seems that there are hefty fines for those that violate those laws. I would abstain from riding them in your neighborhood.
  • South Carolina – SC: It’s not possible to ride legally here. if you see an ATV riding near you then that person is disregarding South Carolina laws
  • South Dakota – SD: Riding ATVs and side by sides on South Dakota streets is a well-established practice. but you are going to have to install a rearview mirror, a horn, headlights, and taillights in order to ride legally, and you also need to have a valid driver’s license. after that, you need to get your quad registered.
  • Tennessee – TN: ATVs are only street legal in certain counties. to know if your county allows 4-wheeler use on public roads, please call your local DMV.
  • Texas – TX: Surprisingly, ATVs cannot be driven on the streets legally here. the only quads that can ride are those that are used and registered specifically for farm work.
  • Utah – UT: In order to ride legally in Utah, you need to install a few accessories to your quad. these include headlights, taillights, turn signals, a horn, a muffler, and a windshield. you are also going to need to get your quad or side by side registered and get a registration plate installed. also, check this image out. it shows everything that you need in an image
  • Vermont – VT: Riding legally in Vermont is not possible. you can only ride in offroad areas.
  • Virginia – VA: I couldn’t find any information regarding Virginia. the laws are really vague here when it comes to ATVs.
  • Washington – WA: This is another state that gives you the possibility to ride legally on public roads. check this form out. the dealership that you bought the quad from needs to fill out the first part and the second part must be filed by you. then you to your local DOL, pay the inspection fee, and then they will tell you exactly what you need to install on the quad. after that, you are good to go.
  • West Virginia – WV: You can only ride legally here on the shoulders of a road, at no faster than 25 MPH.
  • Wisconsin – WI: Wisconsin allows of legal use of quads in the roads. please check this document so that you can get information on how to get it street legal