Continuing in our series of articles analyzing the ATV laws in every state, which stemmed from this article, we are addressing the ATV laws in Tennessee.
It should also be noted that, while I am an attorney, I am not your attorney and am not giving legal advice. If you have questions, you should consult a local attorney.
How does Tennessee define an ATV and UTV?
Tennessee defines an ATV as a motorized non-highway vehicle with 4-6 non-highway tires, that is limited in engine displacement to 1,000 cc, that is limited in dry weight to 1,500 pounds or less, that is steered by handlebars, and that has a seat or saddle designed to be saddled by the operator.
Tennessee includes UTVs in the category of “Class I off-highway vehicles,” which are defined as a motorized vehicle with 4-6 wheels whose top speed is greater than 35 mph, that is limited in engine displacement to 1,000 cc, that is limited in total dry weight to 2,000 pounds, that is 65 inches or less in width, that has a steering wheel and that has non-straddle seating capable of holding 2-4 passengers.
Are you required to title and register your ATV or UTV in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, you must obtain a certificate of title for your ATV or UTV. Using your certificate of title, you must then obtain a special identification plate verifying that you possess a certificate of title.
This plate is to be affixed to your ATV or UTV. The identification plate is non-transferrable, meaning you must obtain a new one anytime ownership of the ATV or UTV is transferred.
On the other hand, you are neither required nor permitted to register your ATV or UTV in Tennessee, unless it is a UTV to be operated on County Roads, in which case it must be registered asa Class I off-highway vehicle and as a medium speed vehicle.
Nonresidents of Tennessee who bring their ATV or UTV to ride in Tennessee do not need to obtain the special identification plate so long as you have proof that the ATV or UTV was either titled or registered in their home state. You will need to obtain an off-highway vehicle temporary permit.
What ATV/UTV equipment requirements apply in Tennessee?
The following gear and equipment requirements must be met by any ATV and/or UTV in Tennessee.
- If and when you are riding an ATV or UTV on a public street in Tennessee, or if you are under 18, you are required to wear a helmet. This requirement applies to both operators and passengers.
- Your ATV or UTV must be equipped with operable headlights that illuminate 200 feet in front of the ATV or UTV under normal atmospheric conditions on a level surface.
- Your ATV or UTV must be equipped with operable tail lights.
- Your ATV or UTV must be equipped with a muffler in good working order if operated on state land.
Can you operate an ATV or UTV on public streets in Tennessee?
Generally, you may not operate an ATV or UTV on state or interstate highways in Tennessee unless you fit into one of the following exceptions.
- You are on a road, or portion thereof, that has been specifically designated as open to ATV use. Examples of such road include the following:
- State Route 116 fro Beech Grove to Railroad in Lake City
- Oneida or Western Railroad in Scott County up until the intersection with Verdun Road.
- You are safely and efficiently crossing a two-lane highway at an angle of approximately 90 degrees.
- You are safely and efficiently crossing a highway with more than two lanes at a designated ATV crossing.
- You are using the ATV or UTV for agricultural purposes.
- You are moving the ATV or UTV in non-mechanical fashion, meaning not operating it, along the side of the roadway to access or return from a designated riding area so long as there is not an alternative route available and you are not interfering with traffic.
Separate from State and Interstate highways, UTV use is permitted on county roads throughout Tennessee where the following conditions are met:
- the UTV is capable of exceeding 35 mph;
- the UTV is equipped with brakes;
- the UTV is equipped with 2 tail lights, stoplights and headlights;
- the UTV is equipped with a horn;
- the UTV is equipped with a roll bar;
- the UTV has seat belts for each seat;
- the UTV is equipped with a spark arrester;
- the UTV is equipped with a working muffler properly connected to the exhaust system;
- the operator is at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license; and
- the operator has proof of liability insurance meeting the same requirements as for a motor vehicle.
If your UTV is properly registered for use on public roadways, you may operate it on paved roadways in state land, otherwise you are limited to unpaved roads.
ATV and UTV riding areas in Tennessee
Tennessee has a number of popular riding areas approved for ATVs and UTVs, including the following:
- Adventure Off Road Park
- Aetna Mountain Adventures;
- Belle Ridge Retreat;
- Bikini Bottoms Off Road Park;
- Brimstone Recreation;
- Buffalo Mountain ATV Trail;
- Dee Mountain;
- Doe Mountain Recreation Area;
- I-81 Motorsports Park;
- Loretta Lynn’s Ranch;
- Muddy Creek Raceway;
- North Cumberland WMA;
- Powerline Supercross;
- Prentice Cooper State Forest;
- Ride Royal Blue ATV Resort;
- Smith Mountain Trail;
- Southern Gulf Off Road Park;
- Thunder Valley Motocross;
- Trails End Campground;
- Unicoi Motorcycle Trail in the Cherokee National Forest;
- Wheelin’ in the Country, Inc. Off Road Park;
- Windrock Park;
- WMMX-TN; and
- Wooly’s Offroad.
Other Tennessee ATV/UTV Regulations:
- ATVs and UTVs may only be driven in the time from one-half hour after sunrise to one-half hour before sunset.
- The headlight and taillight of your ATV and UTV must be illuminated while in operation.
- You may not ride an ATV or UTV upon the land of another without first obtaining approval of the landowner or the person in charge of the land.
- It is unlawful to damage any natural resource on any State Forest.
Tennessee allows UTVs and other off-highway vehicles to drive on public roads in the following circumstances: OHVs may operate on all county roads as defined in Tennessee Statute 55-8-203. Specific roads designated for OHV travel can be found throughout Tennessee Statute 55-8-185.What is required to make a UTV street legal in Tennessee? ›
For title and registration of an OHV, requisite proof of ownership documentation is required. For Low-Speed or Medium-Speed registrations, a Low-Speed Vehicle Affidavit or Medium-Speed Vehicle Affidavit is also required. The clerk may require an affidavit for registration of Class I/Class II OHVs.Do you have to register a side by side in Tennessee? ›
On the other hand, you are neither required nor permitted to register your ATV or UTV in Tennessee, unless it is a UTV to be operated on County Roads, in which case it must be registered as a Class I off-highway vehicle and as a medium speed vehicle.What are the ATV laws in Tennessee? ›
All riders must wear a helmet and safety gear. Four-wheeled ATVs are not permitted on highways is prohibited unless crossing the road. ATVs are not to be used in state parks. A special identification sticker or plate must be affixed to the vehicle as evidence that a certificate of title has been issued for the vehicle.Can you drive an ATV in a neighborhood in Tennessee? ›
Generally, the rules for ATV use are pretty basic. Only roads marked for other vehicle use may be used by ATV riders, except where prohibited by other regulations. Riders should stay on designated roads and trails and not venture off road into fields, woods, or otherwise prohibited areas.What license do I need to ride UTV in Tennessee? ›
Operators must be 16 and hold a valid Driver's License. They must operate only during daylight hours. Must stay on designated and posted roads. Must carry proof of Insurance.Do ATVs have to be registered in Tennessee? ›
As an ATV owner in Tennessee, you aren't required to register your vehicle or apply for a special license to drive it. Nonetheless, you must attach a special identification plate or sticker to your vehicle that shows that you were issued a certificate of title for it.Is it legal to ride an ATV on the road in Tennessee? ›
Riders are always encouraged to use only designated roads and trails in TN and be aware of private property and prohibited access roads. ATV riding is not allowed on highways except to cross a two-lane highway which should be at an angle of 90 degrees, or you're using it for agricultural purposes.Can you ride UTV in Cades Cove? ›
These UTV's are allowed on roads in the Smoky Mountain area including within the national park on Cades Cove, Rich Mountain, Tremont, Townsend, Foothills Parkway, Elkmont, and the town of Gatlinburg. You may ride your UTV rental on any roads in the region that have a posted speed limit of 40 mph or less.Where do you put the TDR sticker on ATV in Tennessee? ›
The decals must be displayed prominently on both sides of the ATV or UTV and in a position that is forward of the operator. ATVs or UTVs with a Public Use registration also must have a license plate attached to the rear of the vehicle.
As reported by CarsDirect, Tennessee state sales tax is 7 percent of a vehicle's total purchase price.Can you ride ATVs in the Smoky Mountains? ›
ATV Rides in the Smokies offer hours of thrilling trail rides in the Smoky Mountains. You can rent an ATV in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge or Townsend. There are a number of trails where ATV's are permitted. One of the favorite trails is the Cades Cove Loop Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.Can you ride side by sides in Pigeon Forge? ›
Pigeon Forge offers premier UTV rentals in the Great Smoky Mountains, and they provide maps with points of interest for drivers. Drivers must be 25 years of age with proof of insurance.Can you drive an ATV on the road? ›
ATVs must be registered. ATVs may not be operated on a public highway, street, or sidewalk. An ATV may be pushed across or along such public way provided it is in neutral or that the power train is otherwise disengaged.What is considered a county road in Tennessee? ›
As used in this section, "county road" means a road that has been classified as a county road pursuant to § 54-10-103 or a road for which a county has otherwise assumed control, and does not include a state highway or an interstate or national defense highway.How much is a riding permit in Tennessee? ›
|035||Resident Annual Permit||$73.00|
|036||Resident Daily Permit||$15.00|
|037||Non-Resident Annual Permit||$232.00|
|038||Non-Resident Daily Permit||$37.00|
Unlicensed OHVs are restricted to routes specifically designated as open to such vehicles. Unicoi Trail #82 is a short 3.4-mile multiple use trail located in the Coker Creek Zone. The trail is open to motorcycle use, but not ATVs.What permit do you have to have to ride royal blue? ›
TRAILS: There are over 600 miles of trails connecting to the Royal Blue/Sundquist/New River area. Free trail maps are available at the general store. YOU MUST HAVE A TN RIDING PERMIT if you are over 12 years of age and operate an OHV.Can you ride side by sides in Pigeon Forge? ›
Pigeon Forge offers premier UTV rentals in the Great Smoky Mountains, and they provide maps with points of interest for drivers. Drivers must be 25 years of age with proof of insurance.Can you ride UTV in Gatlinburg TN? ›
These UTV's are allowed on roads in the Smoky Mountain area including within the national park on Cades Cove, Rich Mountain, Tremont, Townsend, Foothills Parkway, Elkmont, and the town of Gatlinburg. You may ride your UTV rental on any roads in the region that have a posted speed limit of 40 mph or less.
169.43 (b) “No truck shall be driven or parked on any highway with tailgate or tailboard hanging down or projecting from the vehicle except while such vehicle is being loaded or unloaded, and except when a load on the tailboard renders impossible the closing of the tailboard.” So with the information you provided me, I ...Is it legal to drive a dirt bike on the road in Tennessee? ›
If it has been titled in TN as an off-road vehicle, No. If you have a title from another state that doesn't say "Off Highway" anywhere on it then Yes. 50/50 chance if you don't have a title at all, but it's not worth the hassle.Can you ride ATV in Smoky Mountains? ›
ATV Rides in the Smokies offer hours of thrilling trail rides in the Smoky Mountains. You can rent an ATV in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge or Townsend. There are a number of trails where ATV's are permitted. One of the favorite trails is the Cades Cove Loop Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.What does UTV stand for? ›
Utility Terrain Vehicles, or UTVs, are built and used more for work than recreation. They are large, powerful, able to seat passengers side by side, and built with lots of storage space.Which is closer Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge? ›
Pigeon Forge is just 8.2 miles away from Gatlinburg, and it is a 20-minute drive, making it easy to visit either city! If you're still not sure which city to vacation in, don't worry! Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are just 20 minutes away from each other, so it's easy to enjoy the best of both worlds.