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In this article, we will explore the street-legal law on ATVs and UTVs in South Dakota. Recognizing the rise of off-road enthusiasts, South Dakota has welcomed these off-road vehicles onto its streets. So if you’ve been wondering how you could go from the trails to the roads in South Dakota, read on as we answer some of the most important questions that will help you stay compliant and safe.
- Is there any law in South Dakota that allows for ATVs or UTVs to be street legal?
- How does South Dakota’s law formally classify an ATV or UTV?
- Can an ATV or UTV be street-legal in South Dakota?
- What are the requirements to make an ATV or UTV street-legal?
- What are the operational and safety requirements when driving a street-legal ATV or UTV in South Dakota?
- Where can I drive my street-legal ATV or UTV in South Dakota?
- I am not a resident of South Dakota, can I still register my vehicle in this state?
South Dakota Legal Classification of ATVs and UTVs
South Dakota is one of the few states with interesting provisions regarding ATVs and UTVs. Here’s why. For one, South Dakota law has not provided any specific definition of ATVs and UTVs. In other states, these vehicles are legally defined to fit a specific description such as the number of wheels, or the maximum width of the vehicle, or the unladen weight. There’s no mention of any of that here in South Dakota. Instead, ATVs and UTVs are categorized as off-road vehicles, defined as vehicles designed primarily for off-highway use. The interesting part is that off-road vehicles may be licensed and registered as a motorcycle and may be used on public highways in South Dakota.
South Dakota law defines a motorcycle as “motorcycles, motorbikes, mopeds, bicycles with motor attached, and all motor operated vehicles of the bicycle or tricycle type, whether the motive power be a part thereof or attached thereto and having a saddle or seat with the driver sitting astride or upon it, or a platform on which the driver stands, but excluding a tractor.”
Off-road vehicles as Motorcycles
Now while the definition of a motorcycle provided above seems restrictive and exclusive of off-road vehicles, South Dakota’s law added provisions that allow for the licensing and registration of ATVs and UTVs as motorcycles if they meet certain requirements.
For off-road vehicles to be licensed as a motorcycle, they must be either one of the below:
- Any all-terrain vehicle with four or more wheels, and with an engine displacement of at least 200 cubic centimeters;
- Any off-road vehicle with two wheels, and with an engine displacement of at least 120 cubic centimeters;
- Any all-terrain vehicle with four or more wheels and is powered by a rechargeable battery.
You might be wondering why there is no provision specifically for UTVs here? We must remember that UTVs are off-road vehicles in that these are designed for off-highway use, in the same way as ATVs. Because the South Dakota Code does not provide for any specific definition of ATVs or UTVs, and instead classified them simply as off-road vehicles, it would be safe for us to assume that ATVs or UTVs or off-road vehicles meeting the requirements above may be licensed as motorcycles. This is a unique and advantageous provision for ATV and UTV enthusiasts in South Dakota, as it allows them to legally ride their vehicles on both off-road trails and public highways.
So, if you have an ATV or UTV with at least 4 wheels and an engine displacement of at least 200 CC, or an electric ATV or UTV, then you may license it as a motorcycle in South Dakota.
Can an ATV or UTV be street-legal in South Dakota?
Yes! As mentioned in the previous section, ATVs and UTVs may be registered as street-legal in South Dakota by licensing them as motorcycles.
ORVs: What are the requirements to make an ATV or UTV street-legal in South Dakota?
To register your ATV or UTV or simply ORV in South Dakota and to be able to legally drive them on public roads, you must comply with the following requirements and process them at your South Dakota local county treasurer’s office.
- Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin
- Certificate of TitleRegistration
- License plate
- Horn – must be audible at a distance of at least 200 feet
- Rear view mirror – must be able to provide the driver with a view of the highway at least 200 feet to the rear
- Exhaust system and muffler – must be in good working condition and in constant operation to prevent excessive noise
- Head light – must have at least one but not more than two
- Brake light – must have at least one that emits a red light and is visible at a distance of not less than 300 feet
- Rear lamps – must have at least one that emits a red light and is visible at a distance of at least 250 feet from the rear
- License plate light – must illuminate with a white light and render the license plate visible from a distance of 50 feet to the rear
- Rear reflector – must have a red reflector that is visible at distances between 300 feet and 50 feet
- Turn signals – must emit a light that is either red or yellow in color and should be visible in normal sunlight from a distance of 100 feet to the rear
What are the operational and safety requirements when driving a street-legal ATV or UTV in South Dakota?
When driving an ATV or UTV on public roads in South Dakota, you are required to provide and adhere to the following operational and safety requirements:
- Driver’s License
- operators of motorcycles must have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license.
- Vehicle Registration
- Riders under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets whenever they are on public roads or highways in this state. The use of helmets is also advised for all operators and riders on all roads.
- Eye protection
- When operating the vehicle, this is required at all times unless the vehicle has a windshield in place.
- Vehicle capacity
- Unless the vehicle is designed for more than one rider or another seat has been firmly attached to the rear or side, the operator may not carry a passenger.
Where can I drive my street-legal ATV, UTV or ORVs in South Dakota?
In South Dakota, street-legal ATVs, UTVs, and ORVs are allowed on most public roads but are strictly prohibited on the interstate highway.
If my ATV or UTV is registered as “street legal” in South Dakota, can I drive it on the roadways in other states?
In many cases, YES. Many states honor “Registration Reciprocity” meaning that even if a vehicle cannot be registered in their state, they will accept another state’s registration as valid.
Please note though that this is a state-by-state situation as each state has different laws so its not possible to give blanket advice here. That said, drivers of OHVs in South Dakota can generally ride their registered OHV on the roadways in other states too so long as those states accept the South Dakota registration via reciprocal agreement. Click here to view ATV & UTV laws in other states.
I am not a resident of South Dakota; can I still register my vehicle in this state?
If you live in a state that does not allow the registration of your ATV or UTV to be street-legal, and if your state honors “Registration Reciprocity” with other states, then registering your vehicle in South Dakota may be a way to legally register your OHV to effectively make it street legal to drive in your home state, or another state.
Out-of-state registration of UTVs and ATVs is a detailed and nuanced topic though, and requires more specific advisement to your individual situation than we can provide in this article. As such, we have partnered with Dirtlegal.com. DirtLegal.com helps drivers to register their ATVs and UTVs in “street legal” states like South Dakota, so that they can be driven on roadways in other states that honor Registration Reciprocity.
South Dakota is one of only a handful of states that allow the registration of ATVs and UTVs to be street legal. And with South Dakota’s openness to non-resident off-road vehicle operators, it is expected that there will be an influx of these types of vehicles in this state. With that said, it is important that you understand the rules and regulations set forth by the state of South Dakota to ensure compliance with the law and prioritize safety.
Before hitting the road, keep yourself up to date with any updates or changes to the laws relating to the use of your ATV or UTV on public roads. You may check with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department for more accurate information.
While this article has provided a comprehensive overview of the street-legal laws on ATVs and UTVs in this state, it is important that you consult your local motor vehicle regulatory agency for more specific and accurate information regarding ATV and UTV regulations. Because state laws can change over time and regulations differ between jurisdictions, the information presented here may not provide the most up-to-date or region-specific details. Remember that street legality is determined by state and local laws, and it is your responsibility as an ATV or UTV owner to ensure that you are operating your vehicle within the legal boundaries while also getting the most fun out of it.