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In this article, we delve into the street-legality of ATVs and UTVs in Tennessee. Whether you’re a Tennessee resident or planning a thrilling off-road adventure in the state, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the regulations governing the street-legal use of these vehicles. Read on as we present important information to help you make informed decisions regarding the use of your ATV or UTV on Tennessee roads by answering the questions below.
- Is there any law in Tennessee that allows for ATVs or UTVs to be street legal?
- How does Tennessee’s law formally classify an ATV or UTV?
- Can an ATV or UTV be street-legal in Tennessee?
- What are the requirements to make an ATV or UTV street-legal in Tennessee?
- What are the operational and safety requirements when driving a street-legal ATV or UTV in Tennessee?
- Where can I drive my street-legal ATV or UTV in Tennessee?
- I am not a resident of Tennessee; can I still register my vehicle in this state?
Tennessee Legal Classification of ATVs and UTVs
According to the Tennessee Code, ATVs and UTVs are classified as off-highway vehicles (OHVs), which are prohibited from operating on any public road, street, or highway in the state, except for crossing purposes. However, there are some exceptions and special cases that allow for limited use of OHVs on certain roads under specific conditions.
One exception is for UTVs that meet the definition of a Class I off-highway vehicle and a medium speed vehicle (MSV). These UTVs can be registered as street legal vehicles and can operate on county roads with a posted speed limit of 40 mph or less. However, they cannot operate on state or interstate highways or any road with a higher speed limit.
Another exception is for OHVs that are used for agricultural purposes. These OHVs can operate on any public road within 25 miles of the farm where they are used, as long as they display a slow-moving vehicle emblem and have proper lighting equipment.
A third exception is for OHVs that are used by law enforcement, emergency services, utility companies, or government agencies. These OHVs can operate on any public road when performing official duties, as long as they have proper lighting and signaling equipment.
Can an ATV or UTV be street-legal in Tennessee?
ATVs cannot be street-legal in Tennessee, unless they are used for agricultural purposes within 25 miles of the farm where they are used. However, UTVs can be street-legal in Tennessee if they meet the requirements of a Class I off-highway vehicle and a medium speed vehicle (MSV). But, even if UTVs meet those requirements, they can only operate on county roads with a posted speed limit of 40 mph or less.
UTVs: What are the requirements to make a UTV street-legal in Tennessee?
Because only UTVs can be registered as street-legal in the state of Tennessee, we will be listing the requirements to get them registered.
To make your UTVs street-legal in Tennessee, you must fulfill specific requirements, which can be divided into two categories: paperwork and parts.
- Certificate of Title
- Registration & License Plate
- MSV decal
- seat belts
- turn signals
- brake lights
- tail lights
- reflex reflectors
What are the operational and safety requirements when driving a street-legal ATV or UTV in Tennessee?
The operational and safety requirements when driving a street-legal UTV on public roads in Tennessee are similar to those of any other motor vehicle:
- Obey all traffic laws and rules of the road, including speed limits, stop signs, traffic signals, lane markings, etc.
- Must have proper insurance coverage, as required by the state’s financial responsibility law.
- Anyone who operates or rides on a street-legal UTV on public roads in Tennessee must wear a seat belt and a helmet, regardless of age.
Where can I drive my street-legal ATV, UTV or OHV in Tennessee?
You can drive your street legal UTV on any private property where you have permission from the owner or lessee. You can also drive your street legal UTV on any designated OHV trail or area that is open to the public, as long as you follow the rules and regulations of the trail or area. You can drive your street legal UTV on any county road with a posted speed limit of 40 mph or less in Tennessee, as long as you have proper registration, license plate, decal, insurance, and equipment.
On the other hand, you cannot drive your street legal UTV on any state or interstate highway or any road with a higher speed limit than 40 mph in Tennessee.
It is important to note that local jurisdictions may have additional restrictions or regulations regarding their use. It is always recommended to check with local authorities or consult official resources to ensure compliance with specific regulations.
If my ATV or UTV is registered as “street-legal” in Tennessee, can I drive it on the roadways in other states?
In most cases, YES. However, it is important to understand that each state has its own set of laws and regulations regarding the operation of off-road vehicles on public roadways. While some states may have “Registration Reciprocity” agreements or similar regulations that recognize the street-legal status of your ATV or UTV from Tennessee, others may have different requirements or may not permit the operation of such vehicles on their roadways.
Our best advice here is to familiarize yourself with the specific laws and regulations of the state or states you plan to visit or travel through. Contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles or relevant authorities in those states can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the operation of street-legal ATVs or UTVs.
I am not a resident of Tennessee; can I still register my vehicle in this state?
No. If you are not a resident of Tennessee, you cannot register your UTV as a street legal vehicle in this state. However, you can register your UTV as a street legal vehicle in another state that allows it, such as Montana or South Dakota.
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 Tennessee, so that they can be driven on roadways in other states that honor Registration Reciprocity.
In Tennessee, only UTVs are allowed to be street-legal provided they meet certain requirements or are registered in another state that allows them to be street-legal. If you want to make your UTV street legal in Tennessee, you will need to meet certain requirements and adhere to the laws of the state regarding the operation of your UTV.
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 licensing office 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.