Are Side-by-Sides Street Legal in Ohio?

Side-by-sides are such a fun way to get around, especially in the summer. Many people would like to take a spin in these UTVs but are unclear on the laws governing where you can drive them.

Each state has a different set of rules and regulations regarding side-by-sides. In Ohio, these vehicles are street-legal only after undergoing a certification process.

This article looks at are side-by-sides street legal in Ohio. Then, it will walk you through the steps for obtaining a street-legal side-by-side in the state.

Ohio Street Legal Side-by-Sides Laws

You can drive a side-by-side in Ohio once it has passed inspection and received a title and registration. However, some alterations may be required to get it street-worthy. These are the state requirements for the certification of a UTV.

Should Have at Least One Headlight

The vehicle needs to have at least one headlight. The light should illuminate people or objects 100 feet in front of the UTV. This distance is applicable at night or when the light quality is poor, like rain or fog.

Should Have at Least One Red Tail Light

The red tail light of the side-by-side should be visible behind the vehicle for a distance of at least 500 feet. Those driving behind the UTV should be able to spot it on the road, keeping everybody safe.

Should Have a Muffler System

To pass inspection in Ohio, a UTV needs to have a muffler system that reduces engine noise. The system should also decrease exhaust fumes emissions.

Requirements for Inspection of a Side-by-Side in Ohio

Your side-by-side will need to pass inspection before you can apply for registration. Once you have determined that the vehicle has the lights and muffler system mentioned above, you can take it to the local authorities for inspection. They will be looking for the following:

  • Working steering mechanism
  • Working headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals
  • Windshield
  • Working braking system and brakes
  • Rearview mirror
  • Tires appropriate for the UTV and are in good working condition

The tires should not have bulges, breaks, or bald spots and should be legal for Ohio roads and highways.

After your side-by-side passes inspection, you can take the certificate of inspection with you to get the vehicle registered.

Registering a Street Legal Side-by-Sides in Ohio

The applications for UTV registrations are filed with the registrar of motor vehicles or the deputy registrar. Therefore, when applying for a side-by-side in Ohio, you will need to walk into the registrar’s office with these documents:

  • A statement from local authorities stating that the vehicle has passed inspection.
  • A filled application form for a certificate of title for a motor vehicle.
  • Proof of ownership. This could include a bill of sale, title from the state, or a certificate of origin from the manufacturer.
  • Sales tax for the purchase of the vehicle.
  • Proof of payment of title fees. This should include a lienholder notation.

Once the registration process is completed, you will be issued a license plate and a decal registration sticker. These items are to be placed on your UTV and should be visible at all times.

If your side-by-side gets lost, is irretrievably destroyed, or is in any other way no longer in your possession, you are to return the certificate of registration within 15 days.

A nonresident of the state can obtain a temporary permit to operate their UTV. The permit will be valid for a year. The permit has to be shown when requested by local authorities.

Exceptions to Street Legal Side-by-Side Registration in Ohio

Some side-by-sides do not require registration in the state of Ohio.

You do not need to register your UTV or obtain a license if the vehicle is used exclusively for agricultural purposes. However, for your vehicle to qualify for this program, it will have to meet specific requirements. In addition, the requirements for UTV license exemption need to be in place for three years before the owner can apply to the program.

These are the factors taken into consideration for an agricultural UTV license exemption:

  • Owning ten or more acres of land exclusively used for commercial agriculture.
  • Owning less than ten acres of land used exclusively for commercial agriculture with a yearly gross income of not less than $2,500.
  • Your agricultural UTV should not be used on any public land or trail except when crossing from one farm area to another.
  • There will also be no need for you to register your UTV if you are operating it on an island in Lake Erie between November 1st and April 13th.

Permitted Areas for Street Legal Side-by-Sides in Ohio

With your UTV registration in hand, you can now legally operate the vehicle in Ohio. However, there are guidelines on safe driving in the state. Here are the places you are permitted to ride your vehicle:

  • When going to a legal driving area, you can drive along a street or highway for a limited distance.
  • To cross a highway when you can accomplish it safely. You have to yield the right of way in this instance.
  • On state land, where a posted sign has specified permission to operate UTVs.
  • On state highways on Lake Erie islands between November 1st and April 13th. The side-by-side operator will require a valid driver’s license and obey all traffic laws.

Are Side-by-Sides Street Legal in Ohio

Prohibitions on Street Legal Side-by-Sides in Ohio

Side-by-sides that have obtained the appropriate certification are considered to be street-legal. However, there are limitations on where you can drive them. Here are the prohibitions on UTVs in the state of Ohio.

Cannot Be Used on Highways or Freeways

Side-by-sides cannot be driven on highways or freeways except in the case of an emergency. The director of public safety can authorize these vehicles when there has been an emergency.

Cannot Be Operated on Private Property

You cannot drive UTVs on someone else’s private property unless the driver has received permission from the owner.

Cannot Be Operated on Land or Water Owned By the State

These vehicles are not permitted on state land. However, there are instances where UTVs can be driven on property owned by the local government. When this is the case, there will be signs authorizing the use of the vehicles.

Cannot Be Driven n Tracks of an Operational Railroad

The state of Ohio prohibits driving side-by-sides on working railway tracks. This law has been put in place to ensure everybody’s safety.

Cannot Be Driven Between Sunset and Sunrise Without Lights On

Your side-by-side has to have its lights turned on once it gets dark. Driving the vehicle with the lights off at night is against the law.

Cannot Be Driven By Anyone Under the Age of Sixteen

In Ohio, a UTV can only be driven by someone younger than sixteen on private property (with permission, of course) and with adult supervision.

Cannot Be Used For Hunting

You are not allowed to go hunting with a UTV. The state also doesn’t permit side-by-sides to transport bows, firearms, or other hunting implements unless they are unloaded and securely packed. In addition, these vehicles can’t be used to chase or kill animals.

Regulations for Youths Operating Side-by-Sides in Ohio

Generally, you are not permitted to operate a side-by-side in Ohio if you don’t have a valid driver’s license. However, there are some exemptions to this rule regarding those under 16. Here are the guidelines for operating UTVs if you are younger than 16:

  • Anyone under the age of 16 can operate a UTV on public land when accompanied by an adult with a valid driver’s license.
  • Those under 16 years of age can only drive a UTV unsupervised when they are on land owned by a parent or guardian.
  • Nobody under the age of 12 can operate a side-by-side, with or without supervision.
  • If you are less than 18 years old, you can’t own, sell, or obtain a title for a UTV.

Other Regulations for Street Legal Side-by-Sides in Ohio

There are additional rules that govern the use of street-legal UTVs in Ohio that you should be aware of.

  • If you are involved in a UTV accident that results in injury, death, or damage to property, you have to report the incident within 48 hours. The report should be made to the county sheriff, chief of police, or state highway patrol.
  • A UTV accident that results in injury, death, or damage to property should be reported to the registrar of motor vehicles within 30 days.
  • A side-by-side may not be sold without a certificate of title.
  • You must wear goggles and a helmet when driving a side-by-side on state trail or road systems.
  • It is against the law to operate a UTV while under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol.

Jump on the Bandwagon

Side-by-sides are an exciting mode of transportation. They are convenient for short distances and can cover terrain that other vehicles find challenging. However, when operating a UTV in the state of Ohio, it is essential to abide by the laws and regulations that govern their use. This guide provides you with the information you require to operate a side-by-side legally in Ohio.