How to Make a UTV (Side-by-Side) Street Legal in North Carolina

Street Legal UTV North Carolina

North Carolina is a beautiful state with a diverse range of terrain to explore, from the mountains to the coast. Having a UTV in North Carolina is an excellent way to experience all that this great state has to offer.  

Having a street-legal UTV provides a lot of benefits for its owners. It enables them to easily move from one trailhead to another or even run errands in town without having to trailer their UTV. This can save both time and money. 

Additionally, owning a street-legal UTV also expands the range of destinations that can be accessed and explored. It allows for more versatility and convenience, making it a great option for those who love the outdoors and want to explore all that nature has to offer.

As of October 1, 2021, most properly outfitted UTVs became street legal in North Carolina thanks to Senate Bill 241. Of course, you will need to carefully follow Session Law 2020-40 House Bill 307, which regulates the modification of these vehicles.

Which UTVs Are Street Legal In North Carolina?

This new law allows four-wheeled “modified” utility vehicles on the roads, which means UTVs and vehicles such as the Kawasaki KRX 1000.

According to this new law, “modified” utility vehicles are “motor vehicles that are made for off-road use.” Then, it specifies that the overall length must be at least 110 inches, width must be at least 58 inches, and height must be at least 60 inches. Additionally, straddle seats are not allowed. Therefore, riding lawnmowers and golf carts are not included.

Most UTVs do qualify. Check your dimensions, and if yours meets these requirements, you can take the steps to make it street legal.

What Happened To Strengthen Street Legal Laws For UTVs?

Sometimes, big changes happen when big problems are exposed. In this case, it started with a loophole, when a rental company took advantage of reciprocity laws and began renting out UTVs that were street legal. 

These laws state that North Carolina law enforcement recognizes out-of-state plates on these vehicles. Some North Carolina residents were already taking advantage of this by registering their UTVs out-of-state, allowing them to take the vehicles on the road semi-legally.

What Type Of Roads Can I Drive My Street Legal UTV On?

While this law does allow you to modify your UTV to make it street legal, this does not mean that you can drive it anywhere you choose. The intention is to make it easy to move from one trailhead to another or to run into town for supplies. You cannot replace your vehicle with your side-by-side.

The specific rules are as follows:

  • Maximum speed limit of 55 MPH
  • Maximum speed limit of 35 MPH if there are 4+ travel lanes
  • You may cross streets at intersections even if these rules are not met

For the most part, you should be able to get anywhere you need to. As long as you’re not traveling on rural highways or four-lane roads, you should be fine.

How To Make Your UTV Street Legal

If you’re like most people, especially if you’re just buying a UTV, your side-by-side is not ready to be registered and put on the road. At Waynesville Cycle Center, we have everything you need to get you up and running. According to the new law, you need the following to make your UTV ready to get on the road:

  • Headlamps
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Seatbelts
  • Parking brakes
  • Speedometer
  • Reflex reflectors
  • Windshield with wipers or helmets for passengers
  • Stop lamps
  • Turn signals
  • VIN (vehicle identification number)
  • The utility vehicle itself must be rated for over 35mph from the factory (not through modification)
  • License plate holder (most people are getting full-sized plates, not motorcycle plates- so plan accordingly)

We offer a variety of OEM and aftermarket parts online that will help you get all of these requirements taken care of, as well as a Service Department in Waynesville that is ready to help. In addition to making sure that your UTV has all of these parts in place, you will need to register it with the North Carolina DMV before taking it on public roadways.

Registering Your Side-By-Side With The North Carolina DMV

Registering your side-by-side is easy. Once you have met all of the requirements, you’ll visit your local DMV office with the following:

  • Bill of Sale
  • Signed/notarized Modified UTV Affidavit (the affidavit has to be filled out by a franchised dealer like Waynesville Cycle Center.)
  • Vehicle title or MCO (Manufacturer Certificate of Origin)
  • Completed inspection
  • Proof of insurance

This is all fairly basic information, but it may take some research to get it all together. The biggest problem you may have is the vehicle title or MCO. The only way you will have a title is if it was registered in another state. If not, you’ll need an MCO, which you should have if you bought your UTV new. If you bought it used, you may or may not have one.

You must bring in the original or duplicate MCO. If you do not have one, you can contact the dealer from which you bought it. If they do not have it or if you bought it from an individual, you can contact the manufacturer.

Once you have all of this paperwork ready, you will also need to be ready to pay some fees. You will not be required to pay the 3% road use tax, but you will pay some others, which should be no more than $200.

Benefits Of A Street Legal UTV In North Carolina And Beyond

If you’re in North Carolina, here’s why you should want your UTV to be street legal.

1. You Can Explore The Great Outdoors With Your Street Legal UTV

Riding a street-legal UTV opens up a world of adventure, combining the thrill of off-roading with the convenience of street legality. Below are some of the best destinations where you can enjoy the versatility of your UTV:

2. Scenic Trails And Open Roads

  • The Blue Ridge Parkway: Experience breathtaking views and smooth rides along America's longest linear park. This route offers plenty of opportunities for side trails where UTVs are welcome.
  • Moab, Utah: Known as a haven for off-road enthusiasts, Moab's unique landscapes of red rock formations provide an unforgettable adventure for UTV riders.
  • Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota: Explore over 600 miles of trails in the Black Hills, where the blend of forested paths and open roads is perfect for UTV riders looking for diversity in their adventures.
  • The Arizona Peace Trail: Spanning over 675 miles, this loop in western Arizona offers riders a mix of desert and mountainous terrain, ideal for those looking to explore the vast landscapes the state has to offer.

Tips For Operating Your Street Legal UTV In Western North Carolina

Ensuring your UTV is street legal not only complies with the law but also opens up new avenues for exploration and enjoyment. Here are some tips for a safe and legal riding experience:

  • Always check local regulations before heading out, as laws can vary significantly from one area to another.
  • Invest in proper safety gear and ensure your UTV is equipped with all the required modifications for street legality.
  • Plan your route in advance, especially when exploring new areas, to ensure you can enjoy a mix of off-road trails and legal roadways.
  • Be mindful of the environment and other trail users. Practicing responsible riding ensures that these trails and roads remain open for future adventurers.

By making your UTV street legal, you're not just enhancing its versatility; you're also unlocking a whole new world of exploration. Whether it's a leisurely ride through the countryside or an adrenaline-filled adventure on rugged trails, the possibilities are endless. 

Visit Waynesville Cycle Center For Your UTV Needs In Western North Carolina

At Waynesville Cycle, we take pride in being a one-stop shop for all your off-road vehicle needs. Whether you're a seasoned rider or a beginner, we have everything you need to get started and keep going. Our team of experts is knowledgeable, friendly, and always ready to provide you with the best advice and recommendations. 

We offer a wide selection of UTVs, ATVs, and dirt bikes, as well as OEM and aftermarket parts, accessories, and apparel. We also provide top-notch repair and maintenance services to keep your vehicle running smoothly.

If you are ready to buy a UTV or make yours street legal, visit Waynesville Cycle Center today. We are located at 18999 Great Smoky Mountain Expressway in Waynesville, North Carolina. Our hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.