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Are Go Karts Street Legal? Everything You Need to Know

  • Tips & Trips
  • Silas Smith
  • 5 minutes

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Go-karts are cute little vehicles used in tracks, often acting as stepping stones for people aspiring for a career in professional racing. Since they’re nimble, agile, and seemingly easy to commute, people often wish they could use them to run errands. But are go-karts even street-legal? This article will look into everything surrounding it.  

The state statutes and federal laws in the United States can be confusing because people often do not know what is legal or not. But do go-karts fall into the illegal category? 

are go karts street legal

Are go-karts street legal? 

The simple answer to this is no. Go-karts are not street-legal in the United States and are meant for track use only. However, you can modify your go-kart to make it street-legal. Their legality is confusing because they fall into different classifications in different US states.  

Go-kart classifications 

Go-karts are usually classified into the following types across different US states. They are  

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

Of these categories, some are not permitted on public roads in different states.  

Where can you drive your Go-Kart? 

Owning a go-kart and getting to drive it around can give you an exhilarating experience. But it can be disappointing to know that they’re not street-legal. But where can you drive one? The short answer to this is ‘track.’ Tracks are the only place where it is legal to drive a go-kart. The best way is to find a track near you and unleash the racer in you without limits.  


Are go-karts street legal in the USA? 

Go-karts are not street legal in a majority of US States. However, a few US States permit the street use of go-karts in streets if they’re registered as Off-Highway Vehicles, have a valid OHV decal, and have cleared the inspection. These states include Arizona, California, etc. We’ll explain the specific requirements in detail in the following sections.  

Can you make a go-kart street legal? 

Yes. Making a go-kart street legal isn’t a tough task. You can make one street legal by getting a registration and adding a few mods to it to conform to your state’s laws. These mods include some essential and safety features like  

  • Seat belt 
  • Mirrors 
  • Speedometer 
  • Blinkers 
  • Lights 
  • Horn 
  • Exhaust 
  • Windshield  

After all these additions, you may also need to take your car for a speed test and clear it to make it road ready. But ensure to abide by every road rule and speed limit with your go-kart. Remember, the road is not a track.  

Steps to make your go-kart street legal: 

Follow these (not so) simple steps to make your go-kart street legal. It is time-consuming and requires a lot of effort, which is definitely worth it.  

Step 1: The first step towards making any vehicle street-legal is to ensure its safety. Equip it with the necessary safety features that a regular automobile has. These include installing a seat belt, mirrors, lights, horn, exhaust, etc.  You can get all these parts online or at the nearest automotive parts shop. Don’t forget to look at your nearest scrap yard for parts to save money.   

Step 2: After making the necessary modifications, take your car for an inspection. An examiner appointed by your local DMV will test and approve your go-kart if found satisfactory. Make sure you’ve perfected your vehicle to meet all the norms. 

Step 3: The speed test comes in after inspection, where your go-kart is required to stick to a minimum speed to fit within the LSV criteria. Make sure that you don’t cross a speed of 25mph.  

Step 4: Registering your go-kart is the next step. Here you need to complete three steps; which are: 

  • Getting insurance 
  • Applying for the title 
  • Registration 

Once these steps are completed, you’re good to go. Make sure to adhere to the local laws and speed limits, and drive safe 

Are go-karts street legal in California? 

If your go-kart has four wheels, weighs under 3000 lbs, and meets the required specifications, you can register it as a Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV). However, you may only drive it on public roads with a 35 mph or lesser speed limit. That’s the only bummer!  

Are go-karts street legal in New York? 

The street legality of go-karts in New York depends upon their type. Though the laws allow you to drive some go-karts classified as Low-Speed Vehicles on public roads, some local authorities may prohibit the same. Furthermore, off-road go-karts, which fall under the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) category, are not permitted to be used on public roads or other places other than their intended area of operation.  

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