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

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.

At Waynesville Cycle Center, we can help you make your UTV, or side-by-side, street legal.

Which UTVs are Street Legal?

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.

How Did this Happen?

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.

Which Roads Can UTVs be Driven 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.

Making 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
  • Rear view mirrors
  • Seatbelts
  • Parking brakes
  • Speedometer
  • Reflex reflectors
  • Windshield with wipers or helmets for passengers
  • Stop lamps
  • Turn signals
  • VIN (vehicle identification number)
  • 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 that will help you get all of these requirements taken care of. 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 you bought it from. 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.

Visit Waynesville Cycle Center for Your UTV Needs

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.