Are Side-by-Sides Street Legal in Idaho?

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Are you wondering about driving your side-by-side on the road in Idaho? Here in Idaho, we have many beautiful small towns and rural areas that seem perfect for side-by-sides. In these areas, it seems like a trip to the store on a side-by-side won’t cause any harm, but you may still be wondering if you can do that legally.

So, are side-by-sides street legal in Idaho? Side-by-sides can be made street legal in Idaho with modifications. You need a driver’s license, registered license plate, OHV sticker, liability insurance, muffler, spark arrestor, and a helmet if you are under age 18. At night, you will also need turn signals, headlights, tail lights, and brake lights.

While you are riding on forest roads or ATV trails, the requirements for driving are all pretty relaxed. This all changes, however, when dealing with real roads. Once you are on a real road, then all of the normal traffic and road rules kick in. We will look at all of these in detail and help you figure out how to get your side-by-side street legal.

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Making Your Side-by-Side Street Legal in Idaho

Driver’s License

When you are on an ATV trail, you only need the supervision of an adult to drive a side-by-side in Idaho. But on a road, you need a full, valid driver’s license to drive.

This one is pretty straightforward, it basically means that you need to be at least 16 to drive on the roads in your side-by-side (sorry, kids). Looking at the law I would say that you could also drive with a permit if your parent is in the vehicle with you, but I would ask a policeman to be sure.

License Plate And Registration

Just like any other vehicle, you need to register your side-by-side before driving it on the road. When you register your side-by-side, they will give you a license plate to put on the vehicle.

This plate is smaller than a normal plate and is specifically for smaller vehicles like a side-by-side.

Keep in mind that for any side-by-side purchased after July 6, 2006, you need to have your side-by-side titled in your name. Without the title, you will not be able to register your side-by-side in Idaho.

For any side-by-side purchased after July 6, 2006, you need to have your side-by-side titled in your name.

In addition to a normal license plate, you need an OHV sticker. This is a little sticker that all OHVs need to be operated on public land, roads, or pretty much anywhere in the state that isn’t private property.

This little sticker needs to be placed on the rear fender of a side-by-side.

The OHV sticker expires on December 31 of every year, no matter when you bought it. These cost $12. You buy them from any vendor that is selling them.

The types of places that sell these stickers are usually motorsports equipment dealers or related businesses, or county government offices. There are locations all over the state that you can buy them from. Regardless of where you buy the sticker, the cost is the same.

Liability Insurance

Just like with any car or truck on the road, you need to have your side-by-side insured to drive it on the road.

In Idaho, the minimum coverage required is $25,000 for bodily injury per passenger per accident and $12,500 for property damage per accident (which is the same for regular cars).

Also, be sure to keep your proof of insurance always in your side-by-side. The penalty for driving without proof of insurance is a $75 fine for the first violation, but for every subsequent violation, the penalty is up to $1000 fine or up to 6 months in prison!

Further Reading: Do Side-by-Sides Need Insurance?

Spark Arrestor and Muffler

These are pretty self-explanatory. These are required for side-by-sides on public roads but also on any public land.

If you are looking at side-by-sides you should double check to make sure that they have these features, just to be sure, but know that almost all side-by-sides come with these.

A Helmet

You need to wear a helmet if you are under 18 years old, whether driving on a public road or anywhere else. If you are over 18, then wear one anyway!

Lights and Signaling

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Idaho street legal UTV

When driving a side-by-side on a public road, you need to signal before turning. During daylight hours, this can legally be done with hand signals.

But if you are driving after dark, then you need to have turn signals on your side-by-side. You also need headlights, tail lights, and brake lights to drive after dark.

This is probably the most complicated part of street-legalizing your side-by-side, as not all side-by-sides come with these types of lights.

If you know you want to be riding on the street, then this is something that you can keep in mind while shopping for your side-by-side. There are some that come with all the lights you need to be street legal.

If you are driving after dark, then you need to have turn signals on your side-by-side

If you already have a side-by-side and are looking to make it street legal, but it didn’t come with any of the lights that I am describing, don’t worry.

Know that there are still ways to make it happen. Some ATV/UTV stores sell kits that are built for this very purpose. They contain the lights that are required.

They also sometimes contain parts that will increase your safety, but that safety isn’t necessarily required by the law. These include things like rear-view mirrors, reflective stickers, and other things that are a good idea to have installed if driving on the road.

You can install these things yourself or pay for the conversion. There are ATV/UTV stores that will do the conversion for you and will install whatever safety equipment you choose to have installed.

Related Reading: How to Make a UTV Street Legal (7 Steps)


There are a few other things to note about the laws in the Great State of Idaho regarding side-by-sides. The biggest limitation is that side-by-sides can’t be driven on highways. To quote the Idaho State Code:

“Any vehicle that does not meet federal motor vehicle safety standards shall not be permitted to operate on state highways, interstates, or controlled access roadways.”

Idaho state code 49-501

The reasons for this are pretty obvious, as a side-by-side is not made for a collision at high speed. If a side-by-side were hit by another car, even at lower speeds, it would be a disaster.

The other big reason is that side-by-sides can’t get moving near as fast as the other cars, and would be a big bottleneck and safety hazard for the whole highway.

In addition to the highway rules, here are some miscellaneous rules that are good to know and may apply to your situation:

  • There is a sound limit on side-by-sides in Idaho. The limit is 96 decibels from a half meter away.
  • There is an exception to these rules for agricultural use and snow plowing. For side-by-sides that are used exclusively for agricultural use or for snow plowing, you don’t need a license plate OR the regular OHV sticker on the rear fender. Side-by-sides that are used for any other purpose need to be registered to be driven on the road.

So there you have it, folks. Here in Idaho, it is pretty simple to make a side-by-side street legal. Most states do not have the freedom to do this, so I regard it as a privilege that comes with responsibility. It is a right that should be guarded.

Don’t be stupid, stay safe, and avoid any accidents. If we all do this, then our freedom to ride should stay around for years to come.

Related Questions:

Do side-by-sides need to be tested for emissions? In Idaho, there are only two counties that do emissions testing. Getting an emissions test is part of the registration process in those counties, so it is part of the registration process for a street legal side-by-side.

What if I don’t have the title to my side-by-side? A title is required to register your side-by-side in Idaho for any vehicle purchased after July 1, 2006. If you have lost your title, you need to go through the legal process of being issued a new one. Talk to your local DMV to figure out how to get started.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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