Are Go-Karts Street Legal In The US?

Are Go-Karts Street Legal In The US?

I have recently received many messages regarding whether the racing go-karts I drive on track are street legal in general, and specifically in the US. Since the term go-kart is a pretty wide definition, I will focus on racing go-karts as they are my focus.

The short answer is no, go-karts are not street legal in the US. However, you can modify your go-kart so that it becomes street legal.

Following your messages, I explored the legalities of go-karts on public roads. I know that trying to understand the different regulations and legal issues can be confusing, especially in the US. That is why I am here to smooth out those blurred lines and give you a better idea of whether you can drive your go-kart on public roads or not. 

Go-karts fall under different classifications depending on the state you reside in and the type of go-kart you own. Essentially, go-karts can be classified as one of the following: 

  • Low-speed vehicles (LSV)
  • Off-road vehicles (ORV)
  • Utility vehicles (UTV)
  • Off-highway vehicle (OHV)

Therefore, if you are wondering whether go-karts are street legal, continue reading!

Where Can I Drive my Go-Kart?

Owning a go-kart is fun and exciting, it gives us the thrill we all look for at the end of a long week, but it might be disheartening to realize that you cannot legally drive it anywhere you want. But, that does not mean there is nowhere you can drive it! 

The best (and authorized) places to drive your go-kart are on the track.

If you are in dire need to let off some steam, perhaps search these places in your state. This way you will have full control over the wheel to enjoy your go-kart with no restrictions! 

Can I Drive My Go-Kart on the Road?

Go-karts are categorized as recreational vehicles and as a result, owners cannot drive them on public properties. This includes: 

  • Residential areas
  • Public roads / national highways 
  • Parks 
  • Other public areas

In addition to this law, safety is another important factor to consider while deciding whether or not to drive your go-kart in your area. This is because go-karts lack numerous types of safety devices and features. Now I know that it is those exact things that make it more fun, however, it does not particularly make it roadworthy. Driving a car that is unsafe for the road endangers not just the driver but also those around you.

Most public parks forbid the use of go-karts and even some private parks. However, if you believe a specific private park may allow it – you can look up the regulations within your state or give them a call first. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry!

On your private property, you are allowed to drive a go-kart, although you would need a pretty large backyard to do so. However, I can say that you wouldn’t be the most favorite neighbor in town as noise-wise, go-karts are not exactly a Tesla model 3.

It is advised to enjoy driving your go-kart on authorized routes only.

Are Go-Karts Street legal in the USA?

Well, that depends on the state in which you live but more often than not, go-karts are not street legal, especially racing karts or off-road karts.

However, if you are determined to drive your go-kart on the road, you are permitted to make changes that will make it street legal without breaking the law. This includes adding the following to your go-kart: 

  • Mirrors
  • Lights
  • Blinkers
  • Windshield
  • Seatbelt 
  • Exhaust
  • Horn 
  • Speedometer 

But unfortunately, it does not stop here. Once you have made the required modifications to your go-kart you will need to undergo a speed test and then register your go-kart. Only once these particular requirements have been passed will your go-kart be street legal and you will be able to enjoy it without any restrictions! Uhh, expect all these speed limits and rules on the road.

If you have any more questions that you’d like me to answer, be sure to contact me or leave a comment below.

Picture of Dor from GoKart36
Dor from GoKart36

Hi, I'm Dor and since my first lap on a go-kart in Italy, karting became my favorite hobby. I check tracks in many places around the world and am happy to share from my experience.
In my daily job, I am a programmer, and during the season, I race in my local league in the senior category.

More About Me
Phuket Go Kart 390cc 4T

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