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

are atvs street legal in michigan

Have you ever wondered if ATVs are Street legal in Michigan? Well, look no further because we have all the answers you need.

Per the state law, ATVs and other off-highway vehicles are not allowed on streets, roads, highways, or their shoulder and ditches; except for the purpose of crossing them. The exception is the municipality roads that are explicitly allowed for these vehicles.

To be able to access these permitted public roads, your ATV needs to be properly licensed and has a certain list of equipment. So, let’s get into more of the details about this question.

Are ATVs Street legal in Michigan?

As I’ve said above, the state law of Michigan doesn’t permit riding ATVs on public roads, but there is an option for municipalities to designate the roads in their jurisdiction for use by all OHVs.

Thus, an ATV can be made street legal for riding on these designated roads.

For an ATV to be street legal in Michigan, it must have certain pieces of equipment:

  • brakes,
  • throttle,
  • spark arrestor,
  • muffler.

In case an ATV is used between one half-hour after sunset and one half-hour before sunrise, it also must have:

  • headlights,
  • tail lights,
  • brake lights that are brighter than tail lights.

Besides these requirements, it also needs to be titled and licensed.

Read also: Are ATVs Street Legal in Alabama? (Do This Instead!)

Can I ride an ATV on public lands in Michigan?

There are more than four thousand miles of public off-road trails and routes that are open for use by ATVs. Many of them are also connecting off-road areas where you can ride.

In other words, yes, you can ride an ATV on public lands in Michigan but only on those specifically allowed.

These trails and lands are located in some of the more popular state and national forests, so the enjoyment is practically guaranteed. But to be able to access these areas, you need also to purchase the ORV Trail permit.

This permit costs $10 and gives you access to all state-designated ORV trails and scramble areas. It is valid until the first next March 31, no matter when it was purchased during a year.

This permit, you can buy either online through the eLicense system, or through any Department of Natural Resources license agents and dealers.

Can I ride an ATV on private lands in Michigan?

Riding an ATV on private property in Michigan comes with practically no restrictions or regulations. You are allowed to ride an ATV on any private property you have permission from the owner. Or you own it yourself.

The only requirement is that the ATV in question is properly titled if it needs to be when the owner is a Michigan resident.

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

The state law of Michigan requires that all ATVs and other off-road vehicles must be titled if owned by a resident of the state of Michigan. Because of this, every dealership has an obligation to issue the certificate of origin which is needed for titling it.

In case you are not a Michigan resident, you do not have to title your ATV, even if you bring it with you for riding in Michigan.

For an ATV to be used on public roads and public ATV trails, it also has to be licensed by DNR.

This is done by purchasing an ORV license which costs $26.25 and is valid until the next March 31, no matter when during the year it was purchased.

This license needs to be visibly displayed on a flat surface on the rear of the ATV.

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

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

To be able to ride an ATV or any other ORV or OHV, you need to have a valid driver’s license. But the law also allows younger riders, not eligible for a driver’s license to operate ATVs under certain conditions.

The first age limit is that no person younger than 16 years is allowed to ride 3-wheel all-terrain vehicles.

Persons aged between 12 and 15 are allowed to ride ATVs on public roads and on public ORV trails only if they have an ORV safety certificate and are in the visual range of an adult.

Youths that are 10 and 11 years old, if they have an ORV safety certificate are allowed to operate ATVs only if they are under the direct supervision of parents or legal guardians.

Only on the private property owned by their parent or legal guardian and are not allowed to cross or drive on public roads.

Kids younger than 9 years of age are allowed to ride an ATV only on private property and only for performing farming-related activities.

Are helmets mandatory in Michigan?

In Michigan, both ATV drivers and any potential passengers are required by law to wear helmets when riding on public roads or on public trails. In case such a helmet does not have a faceguard, goggles are also required.

When riding on private property, the use of helmets and goggles is not mandatory by law. But, in the case of privately managed ORV parks and tracks, management can require them for riding on their property.


Michigan is one of the states with the largest network of maintained and marked trails for ATV riding. Going through both state and national forests, and state parks; it consists of around four thousand miles of trails.

In Michigan public roads, ATVs are permitted only on the roads designated by municipalities for off-road vehicles.

On such roads, ATVs are allowed only if they are properly titled and licensed and driven by a person older than 12 years of age with a valid ORV safety certificate or a 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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