Are Side-by-Sides Street Legal in Michigan?
Side-by-sides have become increasingly popular in the last few years. This expansion has raised the question of whether such vehicles are street legal across the nation.
Since the regulations differ from state to state, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with them.
If you’re wondering whether side-by-sides are street legal in Michigan, look no further.
This article will provide an in-depth view of Michigan UTV regulations and explain are side-by-sides street legal in Michigan.
Are Side-by-Sides Street Legal in Michigan?
Side-by-sides are vehicles intended for off-road use. You get an “off-road title” that confirms you own it when purchasing such a vehicle in Michigan.
Unfortunately, this title also means the vehicle can’t be driven on public streets because it was built for off-roading. However, there are exceptions.
Under certain conditions, the Michigan law states that some side-by-side off-road vehicles can be retitled for on-road use. This means your vehicle needs to have certain equipment required by the Michigan Vehicle Code.
Once you comply with the code, your side-by-side vehicle can be retitled as an assembled vehicle and get a new vehicle identification number.
Turning your off-road side-by-side into an on-road vehicle is possible thanks to the 2018 House Bill 5639. This bill states that any “assembled vehicle” with the standard car safety equipment can be given a new vehicle identification number and title.
What Are Assembled Vehicles?
As mentioned, if you want to make your side-by-side street legal in Michigan, you’ll need to retitle it as an assembled vehicle.
Here’s how the Michigan Secretary of State defines an assembled vehicle:
- A vehicle built from new or used parts and materials by someone who isn’t the manufacturer.
- A vehicle has been modified to the degree that it no longer features the original configuration.
- Vehicle with a body unit from another vehicle.
- A vehicle assembled using a kit for on-road use.
The Process of Titling Assembled Vehicles
Titling assembled vehicles can be a complex process. We’ve summarized what you’ll need to get your side-by-side titled as an assembled vehicle below.
You need to account for all components used for assembling your vehicle by submitting ownership documents. This may include titles, assigned ownership documents, or original bills of sale.
The certification statement contains detailed information regarding the process of assembly. Here’s what it needs to include:
- A general description of the vehicle and its components.
- Names of the people who worked on assembling the vehicle.
- The time and place where your vehicle was assembled.
- Other information that could be of importance for the Michigan Department of State inspector.
Form TR-54, or a vehicle number/on-road equipment inspection, is completed by a Michigan police officer. It confirms whether your side-by-side has the necessary equipment that makes it eligible for on-road registration.
Keep in mind the final vehicle inspection is conducted by Michigan Department of State regulation agents before placing the assembled VIN sticker.
You’ll need to get a new VIN number for your assigned vehicle. The fee is $10.
Keep in mind that assembled vehicles can’t get temporary registrations. Once you submit the required documentation and pass the first inspection, you’ll be contacted by a Regulatory Monitoring Division Agent to schedule the final inspection.
Once you pass it, the agent will place the new VIN number on your vehicle and mail the new title.
Michigan Regulations for Making Side-by-Side Vehicles Street Legal
Since all side-by-side vehicles are designed for off-road use, they often lack basic on-road equipment. Therefore, if you want to make your UTV street legal, you’ll need to follow the state regulations regarding such equipment. If you don’t comply with the laws, you won’t get a new VIN.
Here’s what your side-by-side needs to have to become street-legal.
UTVs usually have all-terrain tires with aggressive treads. While some may be street legal, such tires aren’t always a great choice.
The main requirement for tires is that they are in good condition. There should be no exposed cords or tread separation. In addition, the tire treads should be at least 2/32 inches deep.
One of the simplest ways to check the tread depth is by performing the penny test. Insert a penny into a tread and ensure Lincoln’s head is upside down. If you can see the entire head, the tread depth is less than 2/32 inches, and you should replace the tires.
When purchasing new tires, double-check whether they are approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
According to Michigan law, bumpers are necessary for all vehicles transporting passengers. They should be placed between 14 and 22 inches from the ground, and it’s pretty simple to install them.
If your UTV already has bumpers installed, no further modifications are necessary.
Most UTVs have seat belts for the driver and front passenger. However, if you want to turn your side-by-side street legal, you must ensure all passengers have seatbelts.
You can choose from seatbelt types, ranging from basic to full harnesses.
Rear License Plate Holder
Michigan is one of 20 U.S. states which don’t require front license plates. However, you’ll need to have a rear one. If you don’t have a rear license plate holder, ensure to install one.
Mirrors are one of the requirements for turning your side-by-side vehicle street legal. You’ll need to have two side-view mirrors and a rear-view mirror.
Even if you’re not converting your side-by-side to an on-road vehicle, mirrors can be very beneficial. They give you better visibility and lower the risk of accidents.
Lights and Signals
While most UTVs nowadays come with front lights that enable you to enjoy off-roading at night, they aren’t enough for driving on the street. Your vehicle will need to have high and low-beam headlights, taillights, and turn signals.
Moreover, you’ll need a brake light that indicates you’re slowing down, thus preventing accidents. You’ll also need to have a license plate light.
Many UTVs feature a plexiglass windshield that offers strength and resistance. However, such windshields aren’t street legal in Michigan.
Like any other traditional vehicle on Michigan roads, your UTV needs to have a safety glass windshield. Michigan doesn’t have specific windshield cracks or chips laws, unlike other states.
However, if your view of the road is obstructed, you’ll need to replace the windshield.
The windshield on your side-by-side needs to have properly functioning windshield wipers to ensure visibility in all road and weather conditions. Plus, you’ll need to have a windshield washer system.
Your brakes must be up to the Michigan Vehicle Code standard and have functioning lights.
A horn is one of the requirements for making your side-by-side vehicle street legal. The horn must be audible at least 200 feet away. The horn can feature different sounds or melodies as long as it meets volume requirements.
Of course, too loud or harsh sounds or whistles aren’t adequate for a horn.
Every street-legal vehicle needs a license plate, and side-by-sides are no exception. Once the state issues you a new VIN, you need to register your vehicle and keep the plate on your vehicle at all times.
The following modifications aren’t mandatory for turning your side-by-side street legal. However, they can improve your safety on the road and lower the risk of damage and injuries.
Doors are probably the first optional modification that many owners decide to do. Installing doors on your side-by-side enables you to add heating or air conditioning systems and make your ride more enjoyable.
However, since temperatures in Michigan can get very low, driving even at low speeds can become uncomfortable without doors. Hence, it’s no surprise many street-legal side-by-sides feature fully enclosed doors.
Like doors, installing a roof on your UTV enables you to regulate the temperature inside your vehicle and lower the risk of damage. We recommend aluminum or polycarbonate roofs for the best effect instead of nylon.
Installing additional equipment such as parking sensors or cameras could significantly improve your driving experience and reduce the risk of accidents.
In Michigan, everyone riding in a UTV without a roof needs helmets. Moreover, if the helmets don’t have face masks, safety goggles are also required. So if you often have passengers, it may be a good idea to purchase this equipment.
Street Legal Kits
If you’re overwhelmed by the number of modifications necessary for making your UTV street legal, street-legal kits can be beneficial. These kits contain everything you need turning a side-by-side into an on-road vehicle.
Since laws vary in each state, not all kits can be used nationwide. Double-check what brands offer all required components for Michigan laws if you want to use a kit.
Overall Cost of Turning Side-by-Sides Street Legal
Making your UTV street legal can be a lengthy and complicated process. Since each “case” is different and depends on many factors, it’s not easy to discuss the overall cost.
If you can make most of the modifications on your own, the price will be significantly lower.
Plus, if your UTV already had some of the requirements, such as street-legal tires, seat belts, or mirrors, you won’t have to spend as much.
Generally, you can expect to spend anywhere between $500 and $1,500.
Obey the Rules
Although side-by-sides are made for off-roading, you can drive some of them on Michigan streets. However, before getting to it, you’ll need to ensure your UTV aligns with the state regulations regarding street-legal vehicles.
Since vehicle regulations are prone to changes, it’s best to contact the U.S. Department of Transportation to get the most recent information.