The John Deere Gator is a series of UTVs (Utility Vehicles) that include several diesel and gas-powered vehicles and all-electric UTVs. New owners of one of John Deere’s UTVs are likely to want to take it out as soon as possible. However, where you take it and whether it’s legal may be a problem.
There are no national criteria for driving requirements for a UTV, so everything boils down to the individual states, which makes answering the question more complicated. However, one thing is for certain, in almost every state, you will need to make it street legal and have a driver’s license to take one out on the highway.
Every state is different, and, in many cases, counties get involved in what is and isn’t allowed for UTVs on even minor highways. However, one thing that you can take to the bank is that you will most likely need your driver’s license, along with spending some serious money to make your UTV street legal.
What is Required to Make a John Deere UTV Street Legal?
Unfortunately, there are quite a few things that you may need to do so that you can drive your John Deere Gator out on the highway, regardless of which state or county you reside in.
- Rearview and side-view mirrors
- A tag
- Tail lights with functioning brake lights and turn signals
- Rear reflectors
- High beams and low beams
- A horn that is loud enough to be clearly heard, 250′ away and inside a vehicle
- Mud flaps
Now that we know what you have to have, we have to look at the John Deere Gator to determine what you may have to add on if you want to make it street legal.
If you have your driver’s license, you’re already halfway there because you will need it as well.
Since there are several different models of John Deere Gators, some may be different from others. Below are a few of the different models you can find.
That’s a lot of different models, so be sure to check yours against the above list to determine what you may need to install to get your John Deere Gator into the street-legal territory.
If that wasn’t enough, your John Deere Gator will also require a few additional things.
- Your John Deere Gator will have to undergo a state safety inspection
- In some states, it will have to undergo an emissions test
- You will have to have insurance
- Additional issues will have to be verified with your local DMV
After everything is said and done, you will have to have a driver’s license if you are going to operate your John Deere Gator on a state-funded highway, which most highways are, no matter how obscure.
Some states don’t recognize UTVs or ATVs, meaning that they are designated for off-road use only, and you cannot drive them on a highway, period.
UTV Street Legality by State
The laws in every state are different from one another, and what may be legal in one state might also be illegal in another state.
- Alabama: Not recognized
- Alaska: Not recognized except in times where ice accumulation blocks highways
- Arizona: Requires registration and a driver’s license
- Arkansas: Requires registration and a driver’s license
- California: Not recognized
- Colorado: Treated like a regular vehicle with registration and driver’s license
- Connecticut: Not recognized
- Delaware: Not recognized
- Florida: State and Federal agencies use only
- Georgia: Not recognized
- Hawaii: Can only access highways when used as farm equipment
- Idaho: Driver’s license required
- Illinois: Titled, registered, and driver’s license is required
- Indiana: Laws are on a per county basis
- Iowa: Laws are on a per county basis
- Kansas: Not recognized
- Kentucky: Not recognized with exceptions
- Louisiana: Not recognized
- Maine: Not recognized
- Maryland: Not recognized
- Massachusetts: Required MEP and OHV courses for 18 and younger. It cannot be operated on highways or public roads
- Michigan: Not recognized
- Minnesota: Law enforcement use on highways only
- Mississippi: Not recognized
- Missouri: Not allowed on highways but must be titled and registered
- Montana: County by county basis
- Nebraska: Must have a driver’s license and can only be operated on the shoulder of roads
- Nevada: Cannot be converted for highway use
- New Hampshire: Must remain on the side of highways and under ten mph
- New Jersey: Must be registered with current liability insurance
- New Mexico: Not allowed on paved roads and has to be OHV registered with decals
- New York: Not recognized, and use is restricted
- North Carolina: Not recognized
- North Dakota: Must be a licensed driver with the UTV registered, titled, and with a decal
- Ohio: Requires registration and license
- Oklahoma: Registration and title required
- Oregon: Not recognized
- Pennsylvania: Title and registration required but cannot access public roads
- Rhode Island: Annual registration is required, and they cannot be driven on public highways or paved roads
- South Carolina: Not permissible on highways but requires a muffler system, spark arrestor, and braking system
- South Dakota: Not recognized
- Tennessee: Not recognized
- Texas: Minimal requirements and must have a reflective triangle on the back during highway use
- Utah: Requires the complete list of vehicle conversions
- Vermont: Not recognized
- Virginia: Must be titled and is not allowed on public roads
- Washington: Not recognized
- West Virginia: Not recognized
- Wisconsin: All of the above vehicle conversion requirements apply, including title, registration, and driver’s license
- Wyoming: Requires a multipurpose vehicle permit, proof of liability insurance, and cannot be driven on the interstate
As you can see, having a driver’s license is the least of your concerns, and in many states, ATVs and UTVs are not recognized as highway safe vehicles at all, therefore not requiring a driver’s license unless otherwise specified.
Your best bet is to always check with your local DMV to determine exactly what you need. Even if you are only remotely unsure, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Do Most UTVs Come with Street Legal Features?
Fortunately, for the exhaustive list of states above, most UTVs, including the various models of John Deere Gators, come with all of the necessary requirements for them to be street legal. The only thing that any of the John Deere Gators lack is the ability to go fast enough that most states will allow them on highways.
The things they lack are often pretty easy to install after the fact, such as reflectors, license plate holders, mirrors, and turn signal switches. Online marketplaces like Amazon are overrun with carious kits that will get your UTV street legal, assuming that it is acceptable on your state’s highways.
If you live in one of the states above that leaves UTV and ATV uses up to the counties, you will need to contact your local DMV for guidance and to see what you or the driver of your John Deere Gator will need to get started.
Where your John Deere Gator is concerned, having a driver’s license to operate it is entirely down to the state you live in and, in some cases, the county you live in.
The only way to know for sure is by contacting your local DMV for clarification.