There are times you want to, or need to, drive your UTV on the street. It’s easier to hop from trail to trail. Or you like to take your 4x4 to the restaurant now and then. Side-by-sides are now easily modified to become street-legal in more than half of the country. Predictably, requirements can vary by state, county, and city. Here are three steps to legalize your side-by-side UTV for street use by understanding state/local laws and how they apply to your vehicle.
1. Determine the Legalities
Due to the rising popularity of side-by-side UTVs, more states are working to establish laws legalizing on-road use. Check ATVhelper.com for a state-by-state listing of street legal requirements. Again, laws are unique to each state and may vary by the county and city where you reside. It’s important to understand how UTV on-road laws apply where you live as well as where you intend to drive.
2. Common Requirements
Once you’ve confirmed state and local legal requirements, you may need to add equipment to your UTV. Common street-legal requirements include:
- Headlights. Most of today’s UTVs come stock with headlights, but it’s a good idea to optimize visibility with high- and low-beam LED headlights. These are standard on Intimidator UTVs.
- Tail/Brake Lights. This typically is one set of lights at the back of the vehicle. Taillights come on and stay lit when the UTV is running. Brake lights are typically brighter in color and signal the vehicle is coming to a stop. Also standard on Intimidator UTVs.
- Seat Belts. When operating any vehicle on the highway, it’s important to wear your seatbelt. A street-legal restraint is DOT-approved. Intimidator UTVs use 3-point DOT-approved restraint belts.
- Turn Signals. Adding turn signals to a UTV is a relatively easy, and you’ll find multiple plug-and-play assemblies online, or from Benson Ace.
- DOT-Approved Tires. Most side-by-side UTVs come equipped with off-road tires for maximum traction. When taking your 4x4 on the streets, it’s important to use proper, DOT-approved tires. To check if your tires are DOT-approved, simply look for the code molded into the side wall. Look for letters and numerals that start with the DOT abbreviation.
- Windshield. A UTV windshield is relatively common, but it is one of the most varied street-legal issues. Some states allow driving a UTV without a windshield as long as you are wearing proper eye protection. Other states require partial or full plastic coverage, or a full glass windshield.
- Rearview and Side Mirrors. This modification is one of the easiest to complete. For a cost-effective option, consider adding a couple of the 1.75” Universal Mirrors for both the side and rear view. If you are looking to increase your maneuverability without sacrificing visibility, you can consider upgrading to a 1.75” Breakaway Mirror for the side of your UTV.
- Horn. Many turn signal kits include a horn, but they can also be bought separately. If you do need to purchase a horn, remember to verify state sound level requirements.
- Reflectors. In addition to headlights and tail/brake lights, many states require you to have reflectors attached to the back of your UTV. This allows other drivers to see your vehicle more easily on the road, which is particularly important for non-traditional highway vehicles.
- License Plate Mount and Light. A UTV legal and registered for street use requires a securing a license plate to the vehicle. Look for a place to mount your license frame, possibly on the back tab present in many roll cages designs. Add a small LED strip, or other light.
Legalizing a UTV for street use goes beyond proper equipment. The UTV owner/driver must meet certain requirements as well. This information also varies by location. The most common requirements include registering your vehicle, obtaining proper insurance coverage, possessing a valid driver’s license (the vehicle class required may also depend on your state), and having the UTV inspected for safety and environmental impact.
Intimidator UTVs come standard with many of the safety features required for making your UTV street legal, including high- and low-beam LED lights, tail/brake lights, and DOT-approved restraints. Benson Ace Hardware can help you with options and requirements. Check accessories on the Intimidator website, or at its partner company, Bad Dawg Accessories.