Are Side-by-Sides Street Legal in Texas?


Are you interested in riding your side-by-side legally in Texas? I have done research to find the answer to whether or not your side by side is street legal.

Are Side-by-Sides Street Legal in Texas? Side-by-sides are not street Legal in Texas. Unlike other states, where you can modify the vehicle to become street legal, Texas does not allow side-by-sides on the street. The only exemption to this law is for farm usage.

If you want to know more about the laws within Texas that prevent your side by side to become street legal, then read on. I will also discuss how to qualify for a farm exemption.

Side-by-Side Laws in Texas:

In the state of Texas, there of plenty of side-by-side users. However, they are not permitted to use these side by sides on the roads.

In my opinion however, this will not be the case for a very long time. Just like many other topics which I will not go into detail about, Texans are not standing for this law.

There are many out there who are working to change this law. Most people in Texas do not agree with this law, however it is what it is for now.

“I am at a point where I am looking for an ally or allies to challenge this.”

Jeff Weimer

With the high amount of people who drive side-by-sides in Texas and who desire street legal side-by-sides, this may seem ridiculous.

However, there are most often reasons behind law decisions that are made. The same applies for this situation.

Despite how many are in objection to the law, the rules must be followed while they are in place. Without following the law, you could risk being arrested or fined.

The best solution is to know the law and follow it.

The Rules for Side by Sides in Texas:

In Texas, a side by side, also known as a Utility Type Vehicle (UTV) is considered a Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV).

Most of the ROVs are used for maintenance, hunting, or recreation. Recreation is the most significant portion of this.

Because a side-by-side is considered to be recreational, it is not legal to be driven on the road. This is in comparison to vehicles who seem to have a better purpose.

The qualifications for an ROV are:

  • Equipped with a seat or seats for ride use and a passenger or passengers.
  • Designed to propel itself with four or more tires in contact with the ground.
  • Designed by the manufacturer for off-highway use.
  • Not designed by the manufacturer for farm or lawn care.

Technically, a side-by-side meets all of these qualifications. Although some side-by-sides are built for farm use, they cannot be street legal without actually be used in that way.

Because a side-by-side meets these qualifications, it is not able to be driven on the road.

However, there are some exemptions to this. The exemptions are:

  • The vehicle is owned by a state, county, or municipality and operated on a public beach or highway.
  • The driver is a farmer or a rancher traveling no more than 25 miles.
  • The driver is a public utility worker.
  • The driver is a law enforcement officer.

If you see someone driving a side-by-side on the street, do not assume the law has changed. This individual likely meets one of the exemptions.

The unfortunate truth about the Texas law is that you will still need to do some things to ride your side-by-side around, even outside of public roads.

To own a side by side in Texas, you will need your side by side to be titled.

Even with riding your side-by-side on public property, you will need to make sure that your side-by-side has the following things:

  • A brake system
  • A muffler system
  • A United States Forest Service qualified spark arrester.
  • Head and tail light
  • An Off-Highway Vehicle decal issued by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The good thing about this is that there are many private properties that you can ride on with the permission of the owner, without having to worry about these things.

The negative thing about this is that when you are desiring to ride on public property, you need to meet those qualifications.

In other states, it is much more simple to get a street legal side-by-side. In some states, by completing these qualifications, you would be able to ride around your side-by-side on the road.

However, in Texas, you must meet those requirements to simply ride on public property.

So, why can’t you ride a side by side legally on the street in Texas?

There is no good answer to this question.

In other states, like California, this law makes sense with the abundance of large cities.

However, in Texas, where there are so many rural areas, this law does not make as much sense.

This is the law for now. Maybe one day it will change and your side-by-side will be street legal. That would be an exciting day.

The Farm Use Exemption:

Luckily for you, if you are a farmer or a rancher, you are able to ride your side-by-side on the streets.

This is allowed because with the side by side’s towing and carrying capacity, it is not considered a recreational vehicle when used for farming.

Your Registration Number

To qualify for this exemption, you will need to have a registration number.

In the Texas 82nd Regular Legislative Session, a bill was passed to require a person claiming an exemption from sales tax, you must provide a registration number issued by the Comptroller of Public Accounts.

To be eligible for the registration number, you will need to meet a requirement listed below.

  • Farmer or rancher who raises agricultural products to sell to others.
  • A person engaged in aquaculture and apiculture.
  • Custom harvesters.
  • Person engaged in agricultural aircraft operations.
  • Commercial nurseries engaged in fostering the growth of plants for sale and timber producers, including contract lumberjacks.

When you register for the registration number, you will need to make sure all who will be driving the side-by-side are included.

Similar to how insurance works, the primary owner will receive the number. However, along with the primary owner, others can be included in this number.

By authorizing others, they will also be able to drive the side-by-side on the street.

When you apply for this exemption you will need proof that you do indeed meet on of the requirements. If you do not meet a requirement, you will not be given a registration number.

This exemption is often used for side-by-sides. Because the side-by-side often comes with high carrying capacity, farmers will move around things that need to be done.

If you do qualify for this exemption, I would highly suggest going after it. Most people want to be able to drive their side-by-sides on the streets legally. And, you have an amazing ability to.

Related Questions:

Can a UTV be street legal? A UTV can become street legal depending on the state that the side-by-side is in. There is a process with different lengths depending on the state to go through to make a side-by-side street legal. However, in a few states, UTVs are simply not allowed to become street legal.

Are Dune Buggies street legal in Texas? Dune Buggies are not street legal in Texas. Dune Buggies are considered to be a Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle, or ROV. All ROVs are not able to become street legal. This is because the vehicle is considered recreational, without a purpose on the road.

Can ATVs be street legal? ATVs can become street legal as long as the state permits it. Similar to UTVs, ATVs are considering recreational vehicles. Because of this, they are not able to become street legal in some states. However, in many states, an ATV can become street legal through a process of modification.

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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