We are not lawyers nor legal authorities. We are giving our interpretation of the laws and links to the documentation from the state and counties. If you have any questions, please check with a someone more qualified - we are trying to compile links to laws and make it easier for everyone to find the information they need to stay within the boundaries of the law but, we do not have the knowledge to properly define those boundaries.
Riding the streets in our area may not be an absolute requirement but, it does make life easier to get to destinations, gas and other trails as well as giving local business owners access to customers they may have missed otherwise.
In an effort to clarify some of the misconceptions regarding this, we spoke to several sources to gather information for this post and, we are continuing to track other leads and information which we will either update in this entry or add another one.
We see a lot of questions/comments about riding on the roads. We have also seen many comments about people who have gotten tickets and went in search of support documents for court cases.
After speaking to several Sheriff’s offices, THP Officers and local police, what we can tell you is that the laws are sometimes contradictory, and not fully understood by those enforcing them. (We were listening to the conversation of one THP officer and his supervisor who told him to write the ticket (to us) and let the judge determine if it was legal or not.)
State, County and Municipality laws may not work together or be in direct conflict with each other.
Multiple state documents may be in conflict with each other (as is the case with SB2255(signed by the governor) and TCA 55-8-101) The law was signed in slightly different that the Senate Bill.
The state of Tennessee has made several changes to the laws over the last few years. We will try to simplify and link to the necessary documents here.
We hope this information is useful. Please note, we are not legal authorities – We have sent several questions to TDOT legal and other sources to get some of these answers and the state/county documents are linked in this article.
The Tennessee state roads that are ATV legal are identified on our maps in purple. These either have been or are in the process of being verified by TDOT. If any changes come about, we will send them as updates.
A little terminology:
HB- House Bill (A bill that has been sent to the house of representatives for approval)
SB= Senate Bill (A bill that has been sent to the senate for approval)
Law (also known as Tennessee Code Annotated or TCA)= A bill that has passed both the house and the senate and has either been signed by the governor or not signed/vetoed within 10 days which makes it an active law.
From TN SB 2255, There are 4 tags available for utvs the definitions are split across different parts of the law. We are paraphrasing here- see the links to documents for the exact details.
Medium Speed Vehicle – May ride up to 35 mph on county roads posted at speeds up to 40 mph. May CROSS state roads at as close to 90 degree angle as possible. Must have safety glass windshield, DOT approved tires, turn signals, horn, brake lights and a parking brake. (Law TCA 55-1-125).
OHV Class I – limited to 80 inches wide, 2500 lbs. (No Cubic displacement mentioned), capable of at least 2 but not more than 4 passengers. Covers most side by sides. May ride on county roads at the speed limit. Not allowed on state roads unless roads are ohv legal. Tires may be non-DOT approved, windshield not specified in docs. (Law TCA 55-8-101 section 12).
OHV Class II – anything outside of class I, primarily used for a recreational vehicle. (No Cubic displacement mentioned). Capable of at least 2 but not more than 4 passengers. Must have a steering wheel. May ride on county roads at the speed limit. Not allowed on state roads unless roads are ohv legal. Tire type and windshield not specified in docs. (Law TCA 55-8-101 section 13).
Temporary permit (Out of state/short term registration) May ride on county roads at the speed limit. Not allowed on state roads unless roads are ohv legal. Contact the local tag office for fees and availability. Reference TCA 55-4-702 if needed.
Corrected link is hereA valid drivers license is required regardless of tag.
TCA 55-9-302 section a covers helmet requirements , section b.1 says that the previous helmet requirement section does not apply to persons riding within an enclosed cab. We asked TDOT legal if this applies to Side by sides with/without doors/zippered windows.
Their response is pending but, one person who had doors and windows and was cited for this just got done with court and the case was thrown out. (more to come as we get more info)
From TCA(Tennessee Code Annotated) 55-8-185 (2018 version here )
The state of Tennessee has designated certain state roads as street legal. These are primarily routes from trails to hotels/attractions. They are identified on our maps in purple.
Cities, towns and counties may designate roads (other than state roads) at their discretion.
Morgan county has not designated any. (State Hwy 62 from Windrock rd to Hwy 61 to W. Spring Street to Hwy 330 in Oliver Springs on 2 weekends per year (Windrock event weekends) which gets you into downtown Oliver Springs to the gas stations.)
Scott County has several (Note that Hwy 63 is only legal during event weekends according to the state)
Town of Huntsville allows all city streets
Campbell County has several
City of Rocky Top has several (see picture below)
Anderson County has several
More specifically regarding Scott County and the town of Huntsville,
Scott County, TN and the Town of Huntsville has designated the following streets as ATV Routes as specified in the DiscoverScott.com web page
Litton Covered Bridge
Bull Creek Road
Byrges Creek Road
Mill Branch Road
Smokey Creek Road
Bowling Town Road
Lone Mountain Road
Low Gap Road
Old Jamestown Road
Old Brimstone Road
Additionally, any other road inside the city limits of the Town of Huntsville is open to ATVs under the same restrictions as the roads listed above.”
Streets legal in the city of Rocky Top are covered by the TCA 88-5-185
There may be other cities/towns/counties that have marked atv routes but, these are the only ones we have found.
The map pictures in this post do not represent all street legal roads - that are a lot more that are included with our maps.
We will add additional Blog entries as more become available.
Verified by TDOT