Guide to the ATV and UTV Laws of Kentucky

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 Kentucky in this article.  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.

The laws in Kentucky that deal with ATV use are basically non-existent other than a couple paragraphs.  I combed through everything I could find and am pretty confident I got everything there is to include below.

How does Kentucky Define an ATV or UTV?

Kentucky defines an ATV or “All-terrain vehicle” as “any motor vehicle used for recreational off-road use.”  This basic definition is going to include any ATV or UTV you may own or operate.

Can you Operate an ATV or UTV on Paved Roads in Kentucky?

In general, it is not permitted to operate an ATV or UTV on any public highway, roadway or right-of-way of any public highway or roadway in Kentucky.

You may cross a two-lane public highway on an ATV or UTV so long as you perform the following:

  • You must cross the street at as close to a 90 degree angle as practical and safe; and
  • You may not travel on the highway more than 2/10’s of a mile.

An ATV or UTV may only be operated on a two-lane public highway if you are engaged in farm or agriculture related activities, construction, road maintenance, or snow removal.

The general rule prohibiting the use of ATVs and UTVs on public roads can be overridden by the Transportation Cabinet or a city or county government if they designate any highway or any portion thereof open to ATV or UTV use.

In any situation where you are permitted to ride on a public street, you must possess a valid operator’s license and comply with all applicable traffic regulations.

Additionally, if you are permitted to operate an ATV or UTV on the street, you are limited to riding during daylight hours, except if you are engaged in snow removal or emergency road maintenance.  Notwithstanding that you are restricted to daytime use, Kentucky law requires you to have at least one headlight and two taillights illuminated at all times the ATV or UTV is being operated on a public street.

Required Equipment

  • Anytime you are operating an ATV or UTV on public land in Kentucky, you are required to wear approved protective headgear. This headgear requirement is only exempted when you are engaged in farming, mining, logging, or other commercial operations or when you are riding on private property.  If you are in need of a new riding helmet, this helmet is our recommendation for our favorite helmet.
  • Every ATV or UTV in Kentucky must be equipped with a suitable and efficient muffler. The law further prohibits you from cutting out, removing or modifying the muffler or exhaust system in any way that will amplify or increase the noise made by your ATV or UTV above what was output by the original muffler installed by the manufacturer.

Riding an ATV or UTV on Private/Public Property in Kentucky

An ATV or UTV cannot be operated on private property without the consent of the landowner, tenant, or other person responsible for the property.

Likewise, an ATV or UTV cannot be operated on public property unless the governmental agency responsible for the property has approved the use of ATVs on the public property.

Youth Restrictions

  • A person under the age of sixteen (16) years may not operate an ATV with an engine size exceeding 90 cc (cubic centimeters displacement).
  • A person under the age of sixteen (16) may not operate an ATV or UTV unless they are under direct parental supervision.
  • A person under the age of twelve (12) years may not operate an ATV with an engine size exceeding 70 cc (cubic centimeters displacement).

Brent Huntley

Brent Huntley is the owner of ATV Man and is responsible for almost all the material on the website. He also runs and loves to travel and ride ATVs with his family. When he isn't playing, his day job consists of owning Huntley Law.

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