Off-road: Bill would ban UTVs from high-speed highways, require licenses and insurance

The measure would impose many of the same strictures on UTVs that Florida has now for ATVs.

Utility terrain vehicles — they’re essentially turbocharged golf carts, and Sen. Tom Wright wants them off high-speed highways.

The Port Orange Republican this month filed SB 440, which would ban the vehicles known widely as UTVs from all federal roadways where the posted speed limit is 55 mph or more.

It would also require those controlling UTVs to have a driver’s license or be a minor under the direct supervision of a licensed driver.

The bill defines a UTV as “a vehicle less than 70 inches in width which has at least two seats allowing passengers to sit in a side-by-side manner and which is equipped with headlamps, stop lamps, turn signals, taillamps, rearview mirrors, a windshield, seat belt, and a horn.”

Further, the measure would mandate that UTV owners comply with all state insurance and license requirements for mini trucks.

Florida has similar strictures on its books already for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which are similar to UTVs but more like four-wheel motorcycles. However, ATVs are banned from all public roads and streets except unpaved ones with speed limits less than 35 mph.

Counties can exempt themselves from the ATV roadway restrictions — and could do the same for UTVs if Wright’s bill passes — if their commissions vote to do so after holding a public hearing.

Wright’s bill follows numerous reports of UTV-involved fatalities across Florida, including the deaths of a Columbia County police captain in November 2022, a Tampa man in January, a 14-year-old Dixie County teen in June and a 10-year-old Ocala boy in September.

It also comes as governments across the country are grappling with how to regulate and benefit from the vehicles and one similar to them, which can boost outdoor tourism but can be excessively noisy.

The measure, which Wright filed Nov. 13, awaits a House companion.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Yani

    November 28, 2023 at 7:05 am

    Great idea, but we still haven’t fixed the issue of teens speeding down public sidewalks on electric bikes.

  • Josh

    December 2, 2023 at 2:24 am

    It’s about time, georgia already made them legal. They are safer than a golf cart.

Comments are closed.


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