Go-karts are small recreational vehicles that are primarily designed for off-road use. While go-karts are extremely fun to drive, most models cannot be legally operated on public streets or roads due to safety and equipment regulations.
However, in some cases, it is possible to modify and register a go-kart for legal street use. This process requires meeting certain requirements and passing inspections to ensure the go-kart is safe to drive on roads.
Table of Contents
- 1 Understanding the Concept of Street-Legal Go-Karts
- 2 Procedure to Legalize Your Go-Kart for Street Use
- 3 How to Register and Insure Your Go-Kart
- 4 State Laws Regarding Street Legal Go-Karts
- 5 Examples of Street Legal Go-Kart Models
- 6 The Need for License to Drive a Go-Kart
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Final Thoughts
Understanding the Concept of Street-Legal Go-Karts
Definition and Basic Requirements
A street-legal go-kart is a go-kart that has been modified and approved for use on public roads. The exact requirements vary by state, but generally street-legal go-karts must have:
- Four wheels – Most standard go-karts have only two rear wheels. To be street legal, go-karts must have a total of four wheels similar to a car or truck configuration.
- Working brakes – High quality hydraulic brakes must be installed for stopping power. Standard go-kart brakes are not adequate for safe street use at higher speeds.
- Turn signals and lights – Street-legal go-karts need installed front and rear turn signals, brake lights, headlights and taillights. These help make the go-kart visible to other drivers.
- Safety belts – Seat belts and shoulder straps must be installed to safely secure the driver and any passengers.
- Rearview mirror – A rearview mirror is required safety equipment to see behind the go-kart while driving.
- Maximum speed capacity of 25 mph – Go-karts cannot exceed 25 mph in order to meet street-legal speed limits imposed on slow moving vehicles.
Meeting these equipment requirements and passing inspections are necessary steps to make a go-kart legally drivable on roads.
Procedure to Legalize Your Go-Kart for Street Use
Checking and Submitting Necessary Documents
First, check your individual state’s requirements and gather the proper registration documents. This may include proof of purchase, VIN, title, insurance paperwork, driver’s license, and more. Submit these documents to your local DMV.
For example, the state of Texas requires submission of Form 130-U, a Certificate of Title application, proof of insurance, ID, and payment of registration fees to register a go-kart for street use.
Passing Vehicle Inspection
Your go-kart must pass a safety inspection checking for working parts like lights, signals, brakes, and seat belts. An inspector will thoroughly examine the go-kart for roadworthiness.
All equipment such as turn signals, headlights, brake lights, rearview mirror and seat belts must be functioning properly in order to pass inspection.
Meeting Speed Requirements
Go-karts must not exceed 25 mph to be street legal. Your go-kart will be test driven to ensure it does not surpass this maximum speed limit. Exceeding the limit will result in failure to meet requirements.
Some states require installation of a speed governor to electronically limit maximum speed. You may need to have this installed and properly calibrated.
How to Register and Insure Your Go-Kart
Like any motor vehicle, you must register and insure your street legal go-kart. At minimum, liability insurance is required for property damage and injury liability. However, it’s recommended to get full coverage insurance.
You’ll need to obtain insurance specifically for your go-kart, as regular auto policies do not cover them. Work with providers that insure specialty vehicles.
Typical documentation needed for go-kart registration includes:
- Title and registration form
- Proof of insurance
- Valid driver’s license
- Safety inspection certificate
- Odometer statement
- Fees for license plates
Requirements vary by state but often include inspection, minimum insurance, license and registration fees. Check details with your local DMV.
State Laws Regarding Street Legal Go-Karts
Overview of Various U.S. State Laws
Each state has its own laws regarding go-kart legality. For example:
- California – Strictly regulates go-karts as off-road vehicles not permitted on public roads.
- Texas – Allows registered go-karts on roads under 35 mph speed limit.
- New York – No clear go-kart laws; status determined by local authorities.
- Florida – Does not permit go-karts to be registered for road use.
Always thoroughly check your local state DMV laws before attempting to make a go-kart street legal. Regulations vary widely by state.
Examples of Street Legal Go-Kart Models
Recommended Street Legal Go-Karts
Some go-kart models are easier to modify for street use. Quality options include:
- Polaris Slingshot – Three-wheeled go-kart style vehicle meeting safety standards.
- Morgan 3 Wheeler – Vintage-inspired three-wheeled vehicle with motorcycle engine.
- Cam-Am Spyder – Three-wheeled motorcycle-hybrid with stability control.
These vehicles are designed for on-road use while emulating the go-kart experience. They have safety features integrated and meet federal standards.
The Need for License to Drive a Go-Kart
In most states, you will need a valid driver’s license to operate a street-legal go-kart. This is because when registered for road use, go-karts must meet the same licensing requirements as other passenger vehicles.
Having a license is proof that you are legally certified to drive a motor vehicle. Most states require a standard Class C license to drive a go-kart on public roads.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some common questions include:
- How much does it cost to make a go-kart street legal? Between $500-$2000 including parts, fees and insurance.
- Can you drive a go-kart on the street without a license? No, a license is required if registered as street legal.
- At what age can you drive a street legal go-kart? The minimum age is the same as your state’s standard driving age.
Making your go-kart street legal allows you to drive it more places, but it is complex process. For casual off-road use, an unmodified go-kart may be easier.
Consider your needs and check your local laws before undertaking this lengthy process. But for go-kart enthusiasts interested in driving their vehicle on the road, it can be well worth the effort.
Modifying a go-kart for street use involves meeting safety requirements, passing inspections, registering, and insuring your vehicle. It can be challenging, but will allow you to legally drive your go-kart on public roads.
Always thoroughly check the regulations in your state before attempting to make a go-kart street legal. With effort and compliance, you can convert your go-kart into a licensed motor vehicle for the street.