For the conservative rider or bike owner, making inquiries on how to make an ATV or UTV street legal is odd and a deliberate attempt to constitute some public nuisance. After all, All-Terrain Vehicles are essentially intended for off-road cruises and activities.
But to make them street legal, you must carry out some modifications to your ATV. Besides the mechanical adjustments, you’ll need to take some steps toward compliance with registration and tiles. Overall, try to find out if your state of residence permits the use of quads on the street.
Are four-wheelers and quads truly prohibited from using the street? If yes, why do people want to use their ATV on paved roads? If not, how can you make your ATV or UTV street legal? The direct answer to the former question is that quads are usable on the street and off-road.
In this way, you’ll prevent the traffic cop from embarrassing or stopping you while enjoying being inside a quad. Before you start the process, you must also ask yourself, why should I make my quad street legal?
This post’s focus is to highlight some of the things you need to do on your to make it street legal. Don’t forget, nothing good comes cheap. You’ll have to part with some bucks in the process of making your quad street legal.
Why You Should Consider Legalizing Your ATV for Street Use
The first thing to consider is to ask if making your ATV street legal is worth your time and money. From accessories to registration, the cost of giving your ATV a street status is high. It would help if you weighed your options. Apart from the price, you also have to look at the benefits you stand to gain if your quad is legalized for street use.
The truth is that ATV drivers and owners who live in states and places that are linked to cities by trails will have no option but to make their ATV street legal.
Your convenience on the road shouldn’t be something to compromise. Having to drive your ATV to a trail station and then load it into a truck is a lot of inconveniences, I must say. But if you have a street-legal ATV, it becomes a walk in the park to freely and conveniently drive it on the street without spoiling your riding fun. You can ride on the street to the beach, local meeting, Taco Bell, rider’s community gathering, farm, or the trails at ease. After all, convenience isn’t sold on the market.
Wouldn’t want a spoilt day? Fun is good
Being in the quad can bring convenience. But being inside a street legal ATV comes with lots of fun. You can customize your street legal ATV just as you do to your cars, motorcycles, and other automobiles.
The good thing is that there are places an ATV can reach that your car or two-wheeler can’t. But how do you get there if you don’t drive an ATV licensed to ply the paved roads? Don’t forget, you can jump, skid, and wheel with your ATV on the road, but only if it is legalized.
Are ATVs Street Legal in all States in the US?
There is a difference between owning a street-legal ATV and being legal to ride an ATV on the road. You may own an ATV that’s legalized for road use, but your state laws may prohibit riding an ATV on the road. That is why you need to be familiar with the local motor-vehicle laws of your state of residence.
Here are a few things to know about the street and road legality of ATV:
- ATV must be properly licensed to operate. Vehicle registration and other paperwork are essential. It is necessary to sign up for a vehicle insurance policy and obtain an ATV insurance quote.
- Your AV must meet DMV’s roadworthiness requirements. That is, your ATV must feature headlights, rearview mirrors, brake lights, and turn signals. There is a minimum age and height for an ATV rider.
- The local police department or DMV are bodies authorized to regulate and license the use or restriction of ATVs on the road.
- Not every road can be accessed with street legal ATVs. For example, roads with a 45 mph speed limit are not allowed to be accessed by ATV riders. There are also limits to riding street legal ATVs.
- Some local motor-vehicle rules and regulations only allow the use of ATV to cross the road. In that case, it is illegal to use the ATV on the road outside crossing the road.
Steps to Safely Legalize Your ATV for Street Riding
Having consulted your local DMV for and gained informed knowledge about the street-legality or otherwise of riding ATV, it’s time to inspect your ATV to know that it meets and possibly exceeds all the regulatory requirements for street legal ATV riding.
As earlier mentioned, making your ATV road worthy and street legal requires that you install and mount quite a few accessories on your ATV. Let’s check out some of those accessories:
To have street-legal ATV riding, you must install turn signals on your ATV. Turn signals are used when you want to make turns or change lanes. It’s essential to buy a turn signal that features a switch for easy access when you need to make a turn.
There are several companies that manufacture signal kits all across the state. You can visit your brick and mortar store or go online and make an order from a reliable or your favorite e-store. They can help you mount the turn signal or you can visit a local repairman shop for installation.
To make your ATV street legal, you will also need to get a horn installed on your four–wheeler. Needless to say that you’ll need a horn to indicate your intent to other drivers before you overtake. A horn also helps to warn or inform others of your presence or closeness. It will also serve the purpose of telling other drivers. With under $20 or so, you can buy and install your ATV horn.
Apart from being an essential requirement for street legal ATV riding, the muffler is also a great accessory your vehicle should have. Having a muffler ensures safe riding and reduces the level of nuisance your quad may potentially constitute to public health. A noisy or loud ATV can irritate other drivers, too.
As a matter of safety and regulatory requirements, you need to install a muffler that is compatible with your quad. Also, find out from your local DMV department for other accessories that should come with a muffler. Some states may require you to mount a gas emission device.
ATV Rearview Mirrors
All potential street legal ATV riders must install ATV rearview mirrors on their vehicle. It can also be side mirrors. These mirrors help the driver to see what’s coming behind them. Even if your ATV comes with a helmet-mounted mirror, you still need rearview mirrors mounted on your quad before it can be certified street legal.
You’ll find reasonably priced and affordable rearview mirrors in many ATV accessory stores, whether online or land-based shops. If you have something in the region of $30 or a little less, you’re good to go.
You cannot help but ride an ATV without a brake light to make it street legal. Otherwise called the brake light, the taillight is not an optional requirement for road driving. You must have it on your quad for safety reasons. When you park your ATV, it is the blinks from the taillight that tell other road users that a vehicle is parked at the lot.
Headlights and reflectors are must-have accessories to have a smooth and hassle-free street legal ATV riding. While most ATVs come with tail lights, there are a few that don’t feature them. Headlights are essential for safe ATV riding on paved roads. Like every other ATV accessory, the headlights are available in local brick and mortar shops or e-stores at good and varying prices — depending on the model you gun for.
The flying insects or bugs, debris, dirt, wind, and other obstacles that obstruct smooth driving aren’t off the road yet. You need to protect your eyes against potential danger by getting a windshield installed on your ATV to make it roadworthy and street legal.
You can go for the plastic or glass-made windshield and they are offered at affordable prices. There are also removable and adjustable options, too. Depending on your state and local laws, the DMV department may lax certain rules and regulations on the use of the windshield. Why not find out so you don’t run afoul of the law? Remember, ignorance is not an excuse.
Well, you need to find out if your state is strict about the use of a speedometer. Otherwise, you will need to install a speedometer on your ATV. Except there are specific installation instructions for the aftermarket speedometer, there is no easy way out or simple DIY steps to mount a speedometer. You may want to take it to your local repairman to fix it for you.
If not, the best idea is to go for a quad that comes with a pre-installed speedometer. For those who may want to modify their vehicle, buying an OEM version of a speedometer is the way to go.
DOT Certified Tires
Vehicle inspection officers will not grant any ATVs permission to ply paved roads if they are properly equipped with the best tires. The safety of any quad rider is in part dependent on the quality of the tires mounted on them. Better tires ensure better traction. After all, the tires are the middlemen between the road and your ATV. You must install quality ATV tires. Do you want tubular or tubeless tires? And depending on the motor vehicle laws of your state of residence, you should get approved tires.
Once the tires are not in good shape, there is a chance for an accident, and you can only wish or imagine the extent of the fatality of an ATV crash. The quickest, safest, and easiest way to determine the street-legal tires is to check if they are approved by the Department of Transport. This is the department that regulates and approves all vehicle accessories.
Other Important Things to Make Your ATV Street Legal
Apart from the essential accessories, there are other things the motor vehicle laws require you to do. You may have installed all the accessories, but if you don’t take these other steps, you may not be allowed to start driving your ATV on the road. These things include:
Across most jurisdictions, having a license plate is a common requirement. You will need to contact your local DMV department to get the requirements on how to get a license plate for your quad. Make sure the license plate holder comes with a light. The light will help illuminate your path when you drive at night. Do not compromise on a firm tightening of your holder on your vehicle to avoid getting it loose while driving at top speed.
Sounds strange to you, right? It may if you’re not in states where ATV drivers are required to possess a driver’s license. Actually, having a driver’s license is a prerequisite for making an ATV street legal. Quads are not commonly used vehicles on paved roads and cops will demand your license anytime you step on your ATV for street riding. Make sure you don’t use an expired drivers’ license. You still remember the Boys Scout slogan: ‘Be prepared!’, and this time for the worse if you don’t hold your license.
For off-road drivers, you’re not strictly required to insure your ATV. But the moment you indicate your intent to drive on paved roads, insurance becomes a mandatory thing to do. You must get insurance for your vehicle. Motorcycle riders and owners already know the average insurance costs. The requirements are similar to insuring your ATV or UTV but with special some varying requirements. Find out with some of the vehicle insurance companies around, some come quite affordable.
Title & Registration
It does not matter whether you drive a car, an ATV, or a UTV, the traffic cop is always there to ask for your title and vehicle registration. This is to prove that you truly own the vehicle you’re driving. To avoid being pulled over, delayed, or sometimes having your vehicle impounded for want of papers, the best idea is to have your documents intact. Always go out with them whenever you want to ride on the street. Make sure you keep the papers in a safe cargo compartment in your quad to avoid them being destroyed by the rain.
Now that you have all the accessories in place and you can also beat your chest and say you have fulfilled all legal and regulatory requirements, what’s next? There’s nothing more to worry about, really. But have you gone for inspection? This is an important step to take. The department of Licensing doesn’t joke with an inspection. In some states, it is the Federal Land or National Park Administration that’s responsible for carrying out an inspection. Contact your local to get the right information on inspection and other processes.
What’s the Price of Legalizing an ATV?
Did it scare you when I said you’d have to cough up some money if you decided to make you’re quad legal for street riding? But where you clear that the local laws of the state you reside in or where you want to drive the quad determine a lot? There are a few things that determine how much you’d pay to make your ATV street legal.
Let’s look at some of them here:
State laws: strict or loose?
The thing is that the cost you incur to legalize your quad for street riding and roadworthiness is dependent largely on the motor vehicle regulations operational in your state.
Regardless of state law, you can be sure you won’t spend more than $800 or a little less. In fact, you will spend something in the neighborhood of $350 if you have a state that operates with less strict laws on ATV street legalization.
Again, you will also have to carry out a few things to know how much modification you will be doing on the ATV. If you’re lucky to have an ATV that comes with some pre-mounted accessories, you may not have to spend so much. Otherwise, for an ATV that will require almost complete modifications, be ready to part with some money.
Installation: DIY or hired service?
You’ll have to determine if you will do the modifications and installations yourself or you will hire the service of a professional. It is cheaper to install some of the accessories on your ATV using the Do-It-Yourself methods. It comes cheaper and safer on your budget. You will be able to save some bucks there.
Unfortunately, not all installations will take the DIY route. Some may require special skills and tools that you don’t have. In that case, you will spend more and invest a little above your budget threshold. It is even to r advantage to have those items installed by a professional.
Accessories: OEM or aftermarket?
Here again, there is another important factor that determines the cost you’d incur while indicating your interest to legalize your All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) or Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV). If you want to buy the modification kit from original equipment manufacturers, you may spend more and that will add to your cost of legalizing your ATV for street riding. This is not to say that all aftermarket accessories are cheaper than OEMs. On the contrary, you may find the reverse in some instances. The thing is that in the long run, OEM will save you money when you consider the cost of regular repurchase.
The coast is now clear for quad owners and four-wheel riders to start cruising down the street. There shouldn’t be any doubt whatsoever as to the street-legality of a four-wheeler. What’s more important for the rider or owner is to ensure that their vehicles meet the requirements by the transport department. The jurisdiction of the state DMV also matters to avoid running run afoul of the law in their state of residence. Consult the companies that manufacture the ATVs and UTVs’ street legal kits.
Here is my final point: It’s always advisable to get all your street legal ATV kit. As a matter of principle, I buy all my street legal ATV kit in one place. At least, I end up saving some money in the process. You too can also adopt a similar procedure by making an order for all your street legal conversion kits from a store.
Interestingly, many of the kits and accessories come as a universal fit, and you’ll not need to buy different components each time you need to legalize your new ATV. Take your time to obey traffic rules; follow the instructions on mounting and installing your All-Terrain Vehicle kit, and you can be sure your safety and peace of mind are guaranteed.