Michigan’s state legislature recently enacted a bill to make UTVs street legal.
If you live in a less-crowded area of the country, odds are you get around using something like a UTV (side-by-side). They’re a popular way to explore the backcountry. However, you don’t usually see them on the roads because they’re not street legal. In Michigan, that’s about to change.
Before leaving office, the state legislature passed and governor Rick Snyder signed House Bill 5639 into law. The bill will go into effect within 90 days, meaning owners can start getting registrations in March 2019. It allows, with some modifications, off-road vehicles to take to the streets. According to the bill’s text, “the secretary of state shall…issue a vehicle identification number…and a certificate of title to an assembled vehicle that satisfies all applicable requirements of this act, if the assembled vehicle contains all of the following equipment:”
- Headlights (one on each side with high and low-beam)
- Front and rear turn signals
- At least one taillight (if there are two, both have to work)
- Registration plate light
- Brake lights
- Bright light indicator
- Certain brake equipment
- Safety belts
- Safety glass windshield
- DOT-approved tires with at least 2/32″ tread depth
Retrofitting UTVs may cost up to $1,500
This rule basically treats side-by-sides and other off-road vehicles in the same vein as cars. You have to have all the necessary equipment (except side mirrors, which only applies to trucks). It does not apply to ATVs with straddle seats, as the legislature explicitly excludes them as an “assembled vehicle” in the definitions of the bill.
Still, it will allow off-road vehicles to take to the roads. Some, like Polaris RZR owner Daniel Leonard, are excited for the change. WPBN in Traverse City, Michigan noted he had already ordered parts and was excited for the change. “It’s not uncommon for us to be driving on trail systems that exist in the Traverse City area and run into dead ends,” he said. Folks like Leonard who live in sparsely-populated northern Michigan will soon be able to use their side-by-sides as normal vehicles under the new law.
About half of U.S. states allow limited UTV use, like on rural county or forest roads, provided they stay below a certain speed. Others are more friendly, like Arizona, which follow similar guidelines as Michigan and let people register their off-road vehicles for street use.
Does this mean more vehicles will take to the streets in the coming years? With this new law, it may not be too uncommon to see UTVs zipping down city streets alongside cars. What do you think of the change? Let us know in the comments!
Stay tuned to TFLoffroad.com for more news, views and real-world (we’ll be sticking to the trails) reviews.