In the state of Missouri, a street-legal buggy or street buggy may also be known as an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or utility vehicle (UTV). The Missouri Department of Revenue (MDOR) has different definitions for these two types of vehicles. Some ATVs and UTVs are designed to be used in rugged areas, yet park- or preserve-specific regulations, such as for Sand Prairie Conservation Area, may disallow ATV and UTV use.
Differences Between ATVs and UTVs
Missouri law defines all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) as any motorized vehicle manufactured and used exclusively for off-highway use. The unladen dry weight must be 1,500 pounds or less.
An ATV must travel on three, four or more non-highway tires with a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control, or tires with a width of 50 inches or less, measured from outside of tire rim to outside of tire rim. These are the physical attributes needed to make an ATV street legal in Missouri. ATVs must be titled and registered with MDOR.
Utility vehicles (UTVs) are any motorized vehicles manufactured and used exclusively for off-highway use that are more than 50 inches, but no more than 80 inches, in width, measured from outside of tire rim to outside of tire rim. The unladen dry weight must be 3,500 pounds or less. The vehicle must travel on four or six wheels.
A UTV is to be used primarily for landscaping, lawn care or maintenance purposes. These are the physical attributes needed to make a UTV street legal in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Revenue provides that since a UTV does not meet the definition of a motor vehicle or ATV, it does not need to be titled and registered.
Titling and Registering an ATV
An ATV owner has 30 days from the date of purchase to title and pay sales tax on the ATV. If the owner does not title the ATV within 30 days, they must pay a title penalty of $25 on the 31st day. The penalty increases another $25 for every 30 days they are late. The maximum penalty is $200.
Sales tax is not due on a used ATV purchased from an individual for less than $3,000. There is no exemption from paying sales tax on an ATV purchased for farm use. The owner must submit all of the following to MDOR to title and register an ATV in Missouri:
- Certificate of Title or Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (MSO), with the ATV signed over to the owner.
- Signed application for Missouri Title and License (Form 108).
- Notarized lien release (Form 4809), if applicable.
An ATV owner can title and register by mail by following the instructions on their application for Missouri title and license or visit any Missouri license office.
Costs for ATV Registration
For titling and registering an ATV, the vehicle owner will pay:
- $8.50 title fee.
- $10.25 registration (decal) fee.
- $6 processing fee.
- State sales tax of 4.225 percent, plus any local sales tax due on the net purchase price.
The net purchase price is the purchase price less the trade-in allowance or any other allowance. The local sales tax is based on the rate where the vehicle owner lives, not where they bought the ATV.
Renewing a Registration Decal
The vehicle owner will be issued a registration (decal) that must be renewed every three years. Renewing a decal requires submitting proof of ownership and registration, the registration/renewal notice or a copy of the previous registration receipt. A vehicle owner may be able to renew:
- By phone at 573-751-1957, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Online, if a personal identification number (PIN) is noted on their registration renewal notice.
- By mail by following the instructions on their registration renewal notice.
- In person at any Missouri license office.
The cost of the ATV decal renewal is a $10.25 registration fee, plus a $6 processing fee. There is a $5 renewal penalty if the owner renews past the expiration date.
Where ATVs Can Be Operated Under State Law
Missouri Revised Statutes Section 304.013 provides that a person cannot license an ATV to ride on the road in Missouri unless the ATV is:
- Owned and operated by a governmental entity for official use.
- Operated for agricultural purposes or industrial on-premises purposes between official sunrise and sunset on the day of operation.
- Operated by a person with a disability for short distances occasionally, only on the state’s secondary roads when operated between the hours of sunrise and sunset.
Special ATV Permits
The governing body of a city may issue special permits to licensed drivers for special uses of ATVs on roads within the city limits. A city may collect and retain a $15 fee for these permits. Likewise, a governing body of a county may issue special permits to licensed drivers for special uses of ATVs on county roads within the county.
The county may collect and retain a $15 fee for these permits. Municipalities may allow ATVs on streets or highways within their jurisdiction by resolution or ordinance. The operator of an ATV must maintain proof of financial responsibility or any other insurance policy providing liability coverage for the ATV.
Where UTVs Can Be Operated
A UTV cannot be operated within city limits or on Missouri highways unless it is:
- Owned and operated by a government entity for official use.
- Operated for agricultural purposes or on-premise industrial purposes.
- Operated by a person with a disability for short distances on secondary roads, or on roads designated with letters rather than numbers.
The operator of a utility vehicle must have a valid driver license.
Permits for UTVs
Cities and counties may issue special permits for UTVs to be used on county roads within the county or on highways within the city. The permit fee is $15. It shall be kept by the city or county.
The seller of a UTV is responsible for collecting and remitting the applicable state and local tax on the new UTV. A purchaser of a UTV may qualify for a farm use sales tax exemption.
Taillamps for Off-road Vehicles
In Missouri, motor vehicles are defined as vehicles that are self-propelled and do not operate exclusively on tracks. Although the state has definitions for ATVs and UTVs that distinguish them from motor vehicles, past guidance from the Missouri State Highway Patrol on taillight requirements for ATVs indicates that an ATV must have a lighted headlamp and tail lamp when operated on any street or highway.
City regulations for UTVs, such as the city of Seymour's rules, provide a UTV must also have a lighted headlamp and taillamp that must be in operation any time a UTV is used on any street or highway. Most ATVs and UTVs come equipped with headlamps and taillamps.
The statutes regarding taillamps for motor vehicles provides motor vehicles must be:
- Equipped with at least two rear lamps, not less than 15 inches or more than 72 inches above the ground upon which the vehicle stands. These lamps must exhibit a red light plainly visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear.
- The rear lamp or a separate lamp must be built and placed to illuminate the rear registration marker with a white light to render it clearly legible from a distance of 50 feet to the rear.
- When the rear registration marker is illuminated by an electric lamp other than the required rear lamps, all such lamps must be turned on or off only by the same control switch at all times.
A person who knowingly operates without the lamps required in this section in operable condition is guilty of an infraction.
- Missouri Department of Revenue: Titling & Registration Requirements for All-Terrain Vehicles
- Missouri Department of Conservation: Sand Prairie Conservation Area
- Revisor of Missouri: Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 304.013 All-terrain Vehicles
- Revisor of Missouri: Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 307.075 Taillamps
- Revisor of Missouri: Missouri Revised Statutes, Section 301.010 Definitions
- Missouri State Highway Patrol: Missouri Law and ATVs
- City of Seymour, Missouri: UTV Registration Process
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.