Why Are Dirt Bikes Illegal on the Road? – 3 Main Reasons

Written by

James Stevens

Fact-checked by

Robert A. Verdin


As much as you want to ride a dirt bike wherever you want due to the adrenaline and fun the activity gives you, they are unfortunately illegal in your neighborhood or on the highway.

But first, why are dirt bikes illegal in those places? The reason is that dirt bikes aren’t made for on-road riding. They don’t meet road regulations due to their lack of headlights and turn signals (to name a few).

If you want to know more about why dirt bikes aren’t legal on the street and when you can ride them legally, just scroll down!

Why Aren’t Dirt Bikes Legal?

1. Public Disturbance


One of the reasons is that dirt bikes create a lot of noise, especially if equipped with a modified exhaust system. This may violate the noise regulations in many areas, so they’re usually banned there.

2. Generally made for off-road riding


Dirt bikes are often made for off-road riding, such as the tracks and trails. Compared to a standard motorbike, they tend to be heavier, harder to control, and much faster. As such, it’s easier to lose control or crash when riding dirt bikes, making them dangerous on the streets,

In addition, dirt bikes normally don’t have a headlight, turn signals, or side mirror. This makes these vehicles even more dangerous to the rider and pedestrians. So, the government made it illegal to drive a dirt bike on the streets.

3. Don’t have a plate and registration


Your vehicle needs to have a license plate and registration to legally drive it on the streets. And because dirt bikes aren’t automatically registered upon purchase, it’s illegal to drive one without a title and registration.

When Can I Ride My Dirt Bike Legally?

Legalize a Dirt Bike

You need to follow dirt bike laws in your state to make it legal for you to ride your dirt bike on public streets and highways. Once you’re able to meet the government-mandated road regulations, you should now be able to ride dirt bikes on the road legally.

To legally drive a dirt bike on the streets or highways, you need to comply with these road requirements:

  • Have a DOT-approved headlight and tires on your vehicle, as well as a functional tail light.
  • Ensure your dirt bike has a horn, at least one side mirror, and a license plate holder.
  • Equip the bike with turn signals, a side stand, and an odometer. These are not strict dirt bike rules, but they still ensure a hassle-free ride.

Register your Dirt Bike and Follow State Laws

Once you’re able to meet all the mechanical requirements to make your dirt bike street legal, you may now be eligible to apply for a title and register your vehicle. Please note that different states in the USA have specific dirt bike laws as well.

  • For instance, in Texas, you need to obtain an OHV decal to be able to ride on highways and public roads.
  • In Florida and in Virginia, a rider must obtain a title and apply for registration.

The same process is followed in California, wherein you need to apply for registration to ride your dirt bike legally on the road.

  • Some states, such as Illinois, Kentucky, or Kansas, require a driving license before you can legally ride a dirt bike on public streets.


Overall, why are dirt bikes illegal? Dirt bikes aren’t legal legally drive a dirt bike because they don’t comply with certain road requirements, making them unsafe for road riding.

However, you can still make your dirt bike legal by making certain modifications, such as having a headlight, a tail light, and a mirror. Once done, you can now get a title and apply for registration.

After this blog, we hope you understand why dirt bikes are illegal and how to street legalize a dirt bike!

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James Stevens

James Stevens is an expert bike mechanic who knows everything from basic repairs to custom modifications. What sets him apart is his ability to explain complex concepts in a way that's easy to understand. Check out his content on Speedway if you need help with upgrades or modifications for your bike.