Most people don’t know that you can get a DUI on a riding lawn mower. Since drinking a cold beer on a hot summer’s day while doing lawncare is common, you’d think more people would know that.
No one wants to lose a license over a lawn mower. There are a surprising number of lawn mower-driving-related laws. Can you drive a lawn mower on the road without a license? I’ll explain everything you need to know about roads and lawn mowers.
Can You Drive A Lawn Mower On The Road Without A License
In most states, a lawn mower isn’t considered a vehicle, so you don’t need a license to operate one. However, it is illegal to drive one on the road because a lawn mower isn’t street legal. Without a license plate, registration, seat belts, proper lights and passing the necessary emissions test, a lawn mower isn’t considered a street legal vehicle.
Is It Legal To Drive A Lawn Mower On The Road
It is not legal to drive a lawn mower on the road. As a general rule, when you see people driving unregistered vehicles like ATVs, lawn mowers, and golf carts down the road, they are breaking the law, even if those laws aren’t enforced.
If a road is strictly on private property, then the rules that apply to public roadways are mostly suspended.
Even a massive lawn mower is not a tractor and doesn’t generally fall under the farming equipment laws. Slapping a ‘slow-moving vehicle’ sticker on the back won’t change your mower’s legal status.
Moreover, some states, such as Wisconsin expressly forbids lawn mowers from being registered as ATV’s so they can’t ride on trails either.
Do You Need A License To Drive A Lawn Mower
Because a lawn mower is not a vehicle in most places, you do not need a license to drive one. Alternately, it is illegal to drive any motorized vehicle on a public road without a license.
So, in essence, you need a license for driving your lawn mower only when you intend to break the law with it.
It’s a common misconception that you can drive a lawn mower, tractor, ATV, or golf cart when your license is suspended.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that isn’t true anywhere a permit is needed. If you are on private property, then it doesn’t matter, but otherwise, driving on a suspended license can apply to vehicles that are not street legal.
In the UK, a person must be sixteen and possess a license to drive a ride-on mower. In the USA, laws vary by state, county, and city, so it’s always a clever plan to check with your local authorities before sending a young person out to handle the yardwork.
Without a doubt, no one under sixteen or without a license should ever have a lawn mower on the road.
Can You Drive A Lawn Mower On The Side Of The Road
You can’t drive a lawn mower down the side of the road. Unfortunately, the easements on the sides are part of the road, which means the same rules apply except where your local law states otherwise.
For example, a breakdown lane on the side of a road is often the only part of the road where you can legally stop a regular vehicle.
In some states and counties, vehicles that aren’t street legal are allowed on dirt trails or roads with no centerline.
However, these rules are subject to change. If you’re not sure where your mower can go, contact the local DMV.
Indeed, there has to be an exception, right? If a bicycle can use a bike lane without a license, you might think your mower can as well, but you’d be wrong.
Bikes are another example of a specific exemption provided under local law.
Can You Make A Lawn Mower Street Legal
There is generally no way to make a lawn mower street legal. Even if you purchase a complete conversion kit such as you might find for a UTV, you will still have to convince the DMV to give you a license plate. That is unlikely at best due to the emissions standards.
The average lawn mower has incredibly high emissions, substantially more than street-legal cars.
According to the Center for Environmental Transformation, “volatile organic compound emissions getting out from a two-stroke engine are on average 124 times higher than from a truck or a car.”
In short, you can’t pass the necessary emissions test to get a license plate.
Is A Lawn Mower A Vehicle
A lawn mower is not a street-legal vehicle. That said, if you are on a lawn mower, driving down the road, you may be subject to all the same penalties as you would in another vehicle.
That means you can break vehicle laws on a riding mower, but you can’t abide by them.
Helpful Tips To Know About Driving A Lawn Mower On The Road Without A License
Lawn mowers are meant to be used on private property. Because of the expansive deck and generally small size, driving a mower on any road, especially on a highway, would endanger you and other drivers.
Here are some other helpful tips to know about driving a lawn mower on the road without a license.
- Lawn mowers are for single riders only. That is why they have a single seat. Please do not put your children on your lap as you mow. A shocking six hundred plus kids per year get injured in lawn mower accidents, and many of those were riding on top with an adult. According to Enabling The Future, lawn mowers are the leading cause of amputations in children.
- Using a gas-powered ride-on mower is terrible for the environment. Because these vehicles are not made for road use, they don’t have the same minimum requirements as a car or truck to limit VOC emissions.
- You cannot ride a lawn mower on the sidewalk. City sidewalks are public property, and in many places, even roller skates are forbidden.
- The fastest lawn mower you can get is Hondas’ Mean Mower V2. This incredibly speedy piece of equipment can go zero to a hundred in about six seconds. While it may keep up with cars on the road, that still doesn’t make it legal unless you’re on a track or in a private yard.
It is essential to use a riding lawn mower responsibly and legally. Just because the neighbor did something and got away with it doesn’t mean you should try.
Typically, a lawn mower is not a vehicle, and because of that, it is only allowed on private property. A vehicle needs a license plate, seatbelt, lights, and other features that lawn mowers typically lack to be street legal.
Since adding the necessary components to your mower is not possible, there’s no real chance it can become street legal.
Even if you manage to make the conversions, your mower will not pass a basic emissions test. Make sure you stay safe and only drive lawn mowers on private property.