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You can ride a street-legal motorcycle off-road and on public streets without too much fuss. However, you don’t see as many small, four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) cruising American roads. So, can you drive an ATV on the road without breaking the law? Or are you better off getting a dual-sport or adventure motorcycle?

Depending on the state you live in, you can drive an ATV on the road as a personal vehicle, an agricultural vehicle, or a service vehicle

If you live in Arizona, Minnesota, or Colorado, you may be able to drive an ATV on the road. However, each state has specific restrictions on factors like safety equipment, types of roads, and time of day. For instance, the Washington State Department of Licensing says wheeled all-terrain vehicles can be titled and registered for on-road use as long as they meet the state’s requirements. 

However, in the majority of states, you can’t ride an ATV on the road legally. You can, however, ride one of these diminutive off-roaders on public roads if it’s in an official or agricultural role. For instance, in Kentucky, all-terrain vehicles “cannot be operated on any public highway, roadway or the right-of-way of any public highway or roadway.” 

A set of ATV riders far away from the road high-five.
Riders high-five on all-terrain vehicles | standret via iStock

That said, Kentucky ATVs can operate on two-lane public highways if “the operator is engaged in farm or agriculture-related activities, construction, road maintenance, or snow removal,” per the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office. As such, you won’t find many law-abiding Kentuckians riding on public streets with their four-wheeled off-roaders.

ATVs aren’t the only off-roaders that operators may want to drive on the roads. Utility task vehicles (UTVs) are similar to all-terrain vehicles, save for a few differences. For instance, UTVs are typically a bit larger and have additional seats. They also often have utility-focused equipment like a bed and tailgate. However, even with larger sizes and engines, you might not be able to register one for on-road driving in your state.


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