What is a Side By Side?

Side by side legality is greatly dependent on where you live. Some states do honor side by sides as being street legal, while some do not. In most cases, you will need to make some changes and upgrades to your side by side before it can be considered for driving on public roads. One of the main things that you have to consider is that your side by side must be able to operate with the same standard safety features any regular passenger vehicle has.

Some things your side by side may be required to have and that you will need to update on your vehicle are:

  1. A Rear-view mirror and side view mirrors
  2. A Rear facing tag holder with a light and tag
  3. A horn that is audible up to 250 feet
  4. Both front turn signals and rear turn signals
  5. Both tail lights and brake lights
  6. High and low beam headlights
  7. Rear reflectors
  8. Mud flaps
  9. Windshield (or goggles/eye protection)
  10. A speedometer

Instead of searching for and purchasing all of these parts separately, a lot of stores offer Street-Legal kits. These kits will include most of what you need from this list and will cost you lest to buy all together. This is a smart decision if your vehicle does not have any of these additions already.

It is important to know that the kits may not come with everything, and that some state require you to do more than just have these few upgrades. Check your state from the list and see what they require before purchasing anything so you make sure you are getting what you need.

To find out what states side by sides are legal and not legal, I have compiled a list below for the states that do not allow them and the very specific times they would allow them.

I have also then compiled a list of the states where they are legal and what regulations you must follow.

Here is a list of states where UTV’s are NOT street legal, or have very specific regulations to when one might be legal:

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  • Alaska:
    • You would only be allowed to operate your RZR on a public roadway if you are crossing a road, crossing a bridge, and if a highway is completely covered in ice or snow declaring it closed to public transportation and traffic.
  • Colorado:
    • Depending on the county
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
    • Unless being used for agricultural purposes. If you are, you will need insurance, a drivers license, and be wearing a helmet if you are under 18 years of age
  • Illinois
    • Only when crossing the road
  • Indiana
    • Not allowed even in parking lots, but you are allowed to cross or operate when a State of Emergency is declared.
  • Iowa
    • Only for agricultural use, or if you own the land the highway is situated on you may ride a 5-foot distance from the highway.
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
    • Only if you are within a 5-mile distance of your farm for agricultural purposes and you must travel on the shoulder of the road only. You may also only operate from a half an hour before sunrise to a half an hour after sunset.
  • Maryland
    • Only for agricultural purposes and are not required to be registered if you are on your own property.
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
    • Only if permitted by local authority and you must travel on the shoulder of the road
  • Missouri
    • Only for agricultural use or by approval of public authority
  • Nevada
    • Only if you are using your UTV during an emergency or if you are simply crossing the road.
  • New Hampshire
    • Only in an emergency or by approval from local authority
  • New Jersey
    • Only for crossing
  • New Mexico
    • Only for crossing
  • New York
    • Only on highways with posted allowance
  • North Carolina
    • Only for crossing, has exceptions for hunters, trappers, or agricultural uses and you must be wearing proper headgear and eye protection.
  • Ohio
    • Only for crossing
      • Check with your county or city. In Ohio, each county or city has different laws on whether or not you can ride your UTV on the public roadways.
  • Oklahoma
    • Only if permitted by local authority
  • Rhode Island
    • Only for crossing and in emergency situations
  • South Carolina
    • Depending on the city
  • Tennessee
    • Only for crossing
  • Texas
    • Only for agricultural purposes
  • Utah
    • Only if allowed by local authority
  • Vermont
    • Only if allowed by local authority
  • Virginia
    • Only for agricultural purposes, and you need to get permission with evidence that you are a farmer
  • Wisconsin
    • Only for agricultural use, and you need to get permission with evidence that you are a farmer
  • Wyoming

Here is a list of states that DO allow use of your side by side on public roadways, and some of the regulations required to do so:

  • Alabama
    • Prohibited on highways, elsewhere is okay.
    • No registration or insurance required
  • Arizona
    • Must register, have insurance, pay a registrations fee, title, and have an emissions testing (if you live in an area that requires it for vehicles).
    • If you want to register your RZR and do not plan on using it on public roads, it is only a $3.00 fee and your plate must show a current sticker.
  • Arkansas
    • With a one-time registration fee, with no renewal required. You must only operate outside of city limits and may not operate on the highway.
  • California
    • Only on certain specially marked roads, when crossing, you must be wearing a helmet, and you must have a valid driver’s license.
  • Colorado
    • Only in some counties, each having their own specific requirements and permitted areas. If you live in any of these counties, please check with your county’s rules and regulations before riding on the road.
      • Chaffee, Custer, Craig, Creede, Eagle, Garfield, Granby, Grand, Grand Lake, Gunnison, Gypsom, Hinsdale, Jackson, Kremmling, Lake City, Lake County, Leadville, Meeker, Mesa, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Parachute, Pitkin, Rangley, Rio Blanco, San Juan, San Miguel, Silverton, South Fork, Sterling, Teller, Victor and Westcliffe
  • Connecticut
    • Your RZR must be registered and you must have a valid drivers license. No highway travel is permitted except when crossing.
  • Florida
    • Allowed with updates to your RZR.
  • Georgia
    • Varies by city
  • Idaho
    • Must be registered, have a plate, have insurance, and a valid drivers license. You must also where a helmet if you are under 18 years of age
  • Kansas
    • Must be registered, and you cannot ride in city limits with a population of 15,000 people or more. Despite the law, some cities have their own laws in regard to UTV usage.
  • Maine
    • You must register every year and have standard safety updates. You must also have a valid drivers license and are only allowed to ride on roads with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour or less.
  • Montana
    • Allowed only on Forest Service roads with approval from the Forest Service. Allowed elsewhere only by city approval and you will need a valid drivers license. If you are over 12 years old you may get permission to ride on public roads only in the presence of a rider who has a valid license.
  • Nebraska
    • Only on shoulders of roads for agricultural use in areas outside of an incorporated area and are not highways. If you do drive on the road, you need a driver’s license, may only travel at 30 miles per hour or less and you will need to make some safety updates to your vehicle.
  • New York
    • Only on roadways that are marked for allowance
  • North Dakota
    • Only next to the highway in a ditch bottom.
  • Ohio
    • Depends on the city, but never on highways and you must be registered.
  • Oregon
    • Allowed on any road that is not for passenger car traffic
  • Pennsylvania
    • Only on non-highway roadways
  • South Carolina
    • Only in cities that allow it, and for agricultural use.
  • South Dakota
    • Must have an engine 200cc or larger, but cannot be driven on highways
  • Washington
    • Allowed on roads posted with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less.
  • West Virginia
    • Only on the shoulder of the road when traveling from one trail to another. The speed limit is 20 miles per hour.

Conclusion:

This list shows that there are many different rules and regulations depending on your state when it comes to street legality of your side by side. Make sure you research your own state or any state you plan on traveling too thoroughly before making any changes to your side by side.

Another important thing that is not mentioned in the above state list is that in order to operate your side by side on the road you also need to have a valid drivers license. You should make sure that you have a drivers license and that it is not expired before you take your side by side on the road to avoid fines or other consequences.

You will also definitely need to register your UTV. Costs in each state or even county will vary differently. Check with your local DMV for prices on registration.

If you reside in a State in which each county is permitted to make its own laws on UTV’s being street legal, you can also check with your local DMV to see if it is allowed in your area and what the regulations are on it. Only some states websites contain a detailed list of their counties requirements, so you should call and make sure before you make any decisions.

Other than worrying about street legality, you should also consider the laws of your National Forest locations. If you are within a national forest and need to cross a road that is shared with campers and cars, you may not be able to cross it legally. It is always best to call your local ranger station and check with them first if you know where you plan to ride what is legal and what is not.

And first and foremost, if you plan on taking your side by side on a public roadway, please wear proper safety gear and be careful. Vehicles are not always considerate of motorcycles, UTV’s, ATV’s and other types of non-passenger cars and you should always be completely aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye on vehicles and try to move over to let them pass you if necessary. Make sure you look thoroughly before crossing any roadway and if you are traveling in a group, make sure there is enough time for all of you to safely cross together.

Be safe, and have fun!

DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE IS NOT TO BE USED AS LEGAL ADVICE AND IS STRICTLY TO BE USED FOR GUIDANCE. FOR LAWS AND REGULATIONS PLEASER REFER TO YOUR STATES GOVERNMENT WEBSITE, OR CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL DMV. CALL YOUR LOCAL RANGER STATION FOR LAWS IN YOUR STATES NATIONAL PARKS.