Are Side-by-Sides Street Legal in Missouri?

For all intents and purposes, side-by-sides are not street legal in Missouri in accordance with Missouri state law chapter 304 sections 32 and 34 which states that the operation of Utility vehicles, as well as Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles on the highway and in streams or rivers, is prohibited.

One thing that I have realized is that people love riding their side-by-sides and that they will ride them anywhere they possibly can. The question then becomes for most people, “Can I ride my side-by-side here?”

There are a lot of different states that have different laws when it comes to owning and operating a side-by-side. Knowing those various laws can make the difference between a fun vacation and a ruined vacation from a hefty fine.

I just recently posted an article that discussed whether or not side-by-sides are street legal in Florida, and various laws and definitions surrounding side-by-sides for that specific state, and what I found was pretty interesting.

States, or should I saw lawyers for that matter, love precise definitions. How people say things and define things is the bread and butter to lawyers all around the world, not just your local law firm in your town.

Because of that lawyers make sure that they are very specific and precise when writing laws, as well as definitions to certain things that are spoken about within the laws. Knowing exactly what a law states and how the subject of the matter in that law is defined can make all of the difference.

Now, let me be clear, I am a law-abiding citizen and do not condone breaking the law in any way shape or form, however knowing the law can help you determine if your side-by-side would really qualify under the definition given by the state or county.

Granted I do not believe you should really push the matter anyway, and just keep your side-by-side off the public roads, highways, and waterways for that matter.

However, if you want to push your luck in that regard then hopefully this article will help you understand a little more just how the law is laid out concerning side-by-sides, their definition according to the state of Missouri, and the rules and regulations of operating a side-by-side.

It is also important to note that all of the information stated in this article comes from the Missouri governments own website, and is all up-to-date and current for the current year of 2019 and the laws anytime after the year of 2019, may be subject to change.

What Is a Side-by-Side According to Missouri?

I love to argue, I think that it is just something naturally hardwired into my very being. It is not so much arguing in a negative sense, but really just expressing my opinion and then defending that claim. In order to do that though, I have to be careful in how I form my claims and statements and really define what I mean.

In a sense that is exactly what lawyers often have to do when they write laws. They must be meticulous in how they form the various statutes of a company or in this sense a state, as well as the definitions of the terms that they use.

Missouri is no different, and side-by-sides have a specific definition according to Missouri, in fact, there are two definitions in Missouris state law which may be different to how us commoners would define a side-by-side.

The two different definitions are laid out under “Title XIX MOTOR VEHICLES, WATERCRAFT AND AVIATION,” specifically in chapter 301 of the aforementioned title.

You can find the definition for a side-by-side defined as an ROV. The specific definition is as follows:

“Recreational off-highway vehicle,” any motorized vehicle manufactured and used exclusively for off-highway use which is more than fifty inches but no more than sixty-seven inches in width, with an unladen dry weight of two thousand pounds or less, traveling on four or more nonhighway tires and which may have access to ATV trails;

There is a second definition Missouri has specifically for utility vehicles, and they have a utility vehicle defined as…

“…any motorized vehicle manufactured and used exclusively for off-highway use which is more than fifty inches but no more than sixty-seven inches in width, with an unladen dry weight of two thousand pounds or less, traveling on four or six wheels, to be used primarily for landscaping, lawn care, or maintenance purposes;”

So as you can see we would typically define either of those two vehicles as just side-by-sides regardless of whether or not they are being used for landscaping, lawn care, or maintenance purposes, but that is just how the state of Missouri has chosen to define side-by-sides.

Are There Exceptions?

With those definitions being stated, any type of side-by-side that would meet the description listed above would not be permitted to be driven on the highway or in streams or rivers.

Also, this law is a lot similar to the one that I had written about in Florida. Florida had clarified that some of the laws about the operation of side-by-sides and where they can be operated, were only effective for public property.

Missouri makes a distinction within the laws, however, that if you are on private property you can drive your side-by-side through rivers and such so long as you, the driver, is the owner of the property.

The law specifically reads:

“No person shall operate a recreational off-highway vehicle within any stream or river in this state, except that recreational off-highway vehicles may be operated within waterways which flow within the boundaries of land which a recreational off-highway vehicle operator owns, or for agricultural purposes within the boundaries of land which a recreational off-highway vehicle operator owns or has permission to be upon, or for the purpose of fording such stream or river of this state at such road crossings as are customary or part of the highway system. “

Missouri State Law

“All law enforcement officials or peace officers of this state and its political subdivisions or department of conservation agents or department of natural resources park rangers shall enforce the provisions of this subsection within the geographic area of their jurisdiction.”

Missouri State Law

So there are some exceptions to driving through rivers and streams on your side-by-side you just have to be aware of whether or not they apply to you.

As for driving a side-by-side on the highway or road, there are some exceptions as well but they are primarily in regard to government use and ownership.

Specifically, the exceptions to the rule are:

  1. Recreational off-highway vehicles owned and operated by a governmental entity for official use;
  2. Recreational off-highway vehicles operated for agricultural purposes or industrial on-premises purposes;
  3. Recreational off-highway vehicles operated within three miles of the operator’s primary residence.  The provisions of this subdivision shall not authorize the operation of a recreational off-highway vehicle in a municipality unless such operation is authorized by such municipality as provided for in subdivision (5) of this subsection;
  4. Recreational off-highway vehicles operated by handicapped persons for short distances occasionally only on the state’s secondary roads;
  5. Governing bodies of cities may issue special permits to licensed drivers for special uses of recreational off-highway vehicles on highways within the city limits. Fees of fifteen dollars may be collected and retained by cities for such permits;
  6. Governing bodies of counties may issue special permits to licensed drivers for special uses of recreational off-highway vehicles on county roads within the county.  Fees of fifteen dollars may be collected and retained by the counties for such permits.

As for the laws and exceptions to the law regarding utility vehicles, they are basically the same for Recreational off-highway vehicles, and must be driven safely, and soberly without causing harm to any public or private property.

What Does This Mean for Me?

Those are the laws, definitions, and exceptions for riding your side-by-side on the street or highway all laid out for you pretty clearly for the state of Missouri.

If your side-by-side falls under the definition stated then you cannot legally drive it on the highway. If your side-by-side for whatever reason does not necessarily fall under the description stated above, then it would be wise to consult your municipality before driving it on the highway or any other prohibited area.

As always, I hope this article could be helpful in understanding a bit more about Missouri law when it comes to side-by-sides and be sure to have fun and stay safe.

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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