Mechanically, there’s nothing preventing any Can-Am side-by-side owner from riding on pavement. Aside from a little extra wear on, and excessive rumbling from, non-street off-road tires, the only thing that stops most riders from driving their Can-Ams on city or county streets is the fear of Johnny Law. If you know everyone in your small town or your sister’s married to a Sheriff’s Deputy, you might be able to ride your Commander, Defender, or Maverick through the city’s main thoroughfare while blasting music and texting on your cell phone without a care in the world.
More realistically, even if you’re abiding by the rules of the road, keeping to yourself, or just trying to fill up your gas take, without the proper street legal precautions, you’re liable to get a ticket at best, or get your machine confiscated at worst — albeit the latter would likely only occur after several violations. To be legal on the street, in most cases you’ll need a vehicle registration as well as license. And to get the government license, you’ll need the requisite accessories. But even if you have a DOT approved windshield, 4-point harnesses on all seats, turn signals, three mirrors, and the various other street legal accessories mandated by many municipal legal codes, your city, state, or county might still prohibit UTVs on public roads. We’ll look into a few areas regarding the topic based on recent feedback we’ve gotten from Can-Am owners.
Texas: A Long-Standing Anti-UTV State
Despite their popularity in Texas, side-by-sides, such as the ones by BRP under the Can-Am brand, are not permitted to be on any public roads. This is not exclusive to side-by-sides, however. It applies to all "off-road machinery, including four-wheelers, UTVs, and off-course golf carts. One would find it strange that motorcycles can be street legal, yet something like the Can-Am Maverick (which feels perfectly safe at speeds in excess of 75mph) cannot.
In early January, Texas passed a new law that many Texans thought would make their Can-Ams street legal. But as of the time of this writing, it appears that it is just a bill requiring that UTVs be titled and registered, with nothing about making them street legal. As the current law stands, there is no requirement for flags our blinkers or headlights, but this only applies to SXS vehicles, referred to as UHV’s, within 25 miles of an agricultural interest. As of yet, the applicable regulation is not on the TxDOT website, but it is on the TX Parks and Wildlife website.
Some might think that there is no way to change your title in the state of Texas. After all, a blue title is a clear title with no brands. The only other kind of title you can have is a green salvage title, which requires the vehicle to be deemed beyond repair by an insurance company or registered TXDOT inspector. But we’ve seen it done firsthand. It’s a long process, don’t get us wrong, but yes you can make them street legal in Texas — even the title being changed to a clean blue on-highway vehicle title.
The Best Street Legal Kits For Can-Am UTVs
As mentioned earlier, the best street legal kit for you and your UTV would depend on your state laws. In a lot of mid-western states such as Arizona, you’re side-by-side needs to have a horn audible up to a certain distance, a lit license plate that is road registered, and a rear view mirror. You also have to have a regular tag as well as an off-highway-vehicle tag, and they both have to be displayed a certain way.
In some communities, noise restrictions are in place to prevent vehicles with loud exhausts from being legal. Similarly, emissions laws have been past in several states that require specific types of mufflers and exhaust systems. If you live in such areas, check your state DMV to see what you can and cannot do.
Registering Your Can-Am In A UTV-Friendly State
In states like North Dakota, there are no laws that spell out clearly what street legal accessories you need to have and where you can or cannot ride. Small-town deputies probably couldn’t care either way, so long as you’re not an idiot and don’t make them respond to calls because of you.
Even if you’re near a city that has a city ordinance banning UTVs, you still might be alright on county roads. You might not have to do a thing to it — no registration, no title, no lights, nothing — if you have it registered as farm equipment. Like a tractor, however, you’ll still need to display an orange triangle sign; which is ironic considering the triangle is a slow-moving vehicle warning and most Can-Am side-by-sides can easily go in excess of 65mph.
A lot of riders in non-UTV friendly areas get their machines registered out-of-state. You can get license plates and everything. You can go to places like South Dakota (which doesn’t even require a physical inspection) or trailer your Can-Am down to Louisiana and have them do a state inspection on it. You can then transfer the title to an in-state address and get in-state tags. If you have a buddy with a farm, transfer it to their address and get farm plates for those particularly draconian non-UTV friendly states.
At the end of the day, however, what it's going to boil down to is law enforcement in your area. When they see people driving ATVs on the roadway, a lot of police officers will generally make contact with them, but take various things into account when deciding on how to proceed — for example how they are riding, are they drinking or playing loud music on their overpower stereo setup, do they have children with them, was a complaint called in, etc. You get a Game Warden on a bad day and even a Can-Am equipped with a complete street legal kit, license plate, registration, and everything else could still result in a warning if not a violation.