Are ATVs Street Legal in Kentucky? (ATV + UTV Laws To Know!)

are atvs street legal in kentucky

Have you ever wondered if ATVs are street legal in Kentucky? Well, look no further because we have all the answers you need about legally driving all-terrain vehicles in the state of Kentucky.

In Kentucky, according to state law, it is forbidden to use ATV vehicles on public roads and other public properties, except for the purpose of crossing it, when it is also allowed to travel up to 350 yards on a public road.

The state law also allows local municipalities to designate streets and roads which are allowed for use by ATVs, so these vehicles can be legally operated on some roads. In other words, they can be street legal.

So let’s get into more details of this matter.

Are ATVs street legal in Kentucky?

As I’ve said above, in Kentucky ATVs are generally not allowed on the streets and roads. The law states that the exception is when crossing a two-lane public highway, for the purpose of crossing it. And it must be done at an angle close to 90 degrees, but when it is not possible, you shouldn’t travel for more than 350 yards on that road.

ATVs are allowed on roads and streets that state or local government agencies declare as allowed for their use. Such designation an authority can give only for roads in their jurisdiction. So, in many counties, there are maintained ATV trails.

Kentucky has also instituted a pilot program for local governments that allows petitioning that state roads on their territory be designated as allowed for ATVs.

For an ATV to be allowed on roads designated as permitted, the vehicle must satisfy certain minimum requirements, which I will write about in detail lower, and for a rider to have a valid driver’s license.

To have a clear understanding of where you can ride your ATV in any town or county in Kentucky, it is always best to inform yourself at the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Can I ride an ATV on public lands in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, it is not allowed to ride an ATV on public land unless it is specifically designated for use by ATVs and other OHVs. Some public land can be designated as allowed only by the agency or other body which is in charge of managing that land in question.

This possibility is the reason why there is a good number of ATV and off-road trails on public lands, including the national forests and state parks.

While a blanket ban exists, there are many public lands where you can enjoy riding your ATV, given that your vehicle satisfies all the legal requirements to be allowed on the public road, per state laws.

To ride an ATV on public property, but away from roads, you do not need a driver’s license, but certain age limits exist. State law doesn’t set a minimum age for riding an ATV but does set the maximum allowed engine displacement based on the age of a rider.

Persons younger than 12 are not allowed to ride vehicles with engines larger than 70cc, while younger than 16 are not allowed larger than 90cc.

Read also: Are ATVs Street Legal in Michigan? (ATV + UTV Laws To Know)

Can I ride an ATV on private lands in Kentucky?

Riding an ATV on a private property comes with practically no limitations except required permission from the owner, tenant, or other person in charge of the property.

When it comes to private lands, there is no need to have a valid driver’s license. But the age limits based on the engine displacement apply to private properties too.

Do I have to register or title an ATV in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, it is required by law that all ATVs be titled, but there is no need to register them.

To title an ATV, whether as a resident or for out-of-state transfer, you need a photo ID, filled out TC 96-182 form, and either signed over title and $15 for the application fee. In case your state doesn’t require titling, the bill of sale or registration is valid.

With these things, you should go to any County Clerk’s office.

Do I need a driver’s license to operate an ATV in Kentucky?

To be able to ride your ATV on the roads where such vehicles are allowed, including for crossing the highways, you must have a valid driver’s license.

But to operate it on either public or private off-road properties, you do not need to have it.

Read also: Are ATVs Street Legal in Louisiana? (ATV + UTV Laws To Know)

Are helmets mandatory in Kentucky?

Yes, helmets are mandatory when you are operating an ATV on public roads and public properties. A helmet is not required only when you are engaged in mining, logging, farming, or other commercial activities, or if you are riding on private property.

But, for your ATV to be street legal and allowed on public roads, it must satisfy certain minimum requirements.

It must be equipped with:

  • brakes
  • headlights
  • tail lights
  • brake lights
  • red reflex reflectors, on each side near the rear end, and one on the back
  • muffler
  • spark arrestor
  • parking brake

If your ATV has all of these, only then you can drive on the public roads. 

On privately-owned ATV trails, there are no legal requirements for any safety gear, but the establishment’s management has the right to impose any requirement.


In Kentucky, there are many ATV trails known around the country as excellent, both for the level of maintenance and also for the scenery through which they run.

State law stipulates that they are only allowed on state roads to cross them, while local governments can designate streets and roads for ATV use in their jurisdiction.

For an ATV to be allowed on these roads, it must satisfy the minimum requirements of equipment, while the rider must have a valid driver’s license.

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Jeff is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Reatta. Jeff has been creating written and video content about transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used for more than 18 years. Jeff is based in Boulder, Colorado.

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