The question “Is it legal to drive a lawn mower on the road, the street, or the highway?” crosses the minds of most gardeners who own lawn mowers.
Sometimes, a situation might arise where you must go someplace urgently, but the car is unavailable. So you look at your lawn mower and think, why not?
Find out whether or not this is legal and what you need to do in order to take your mower out on the road in this comprehensive guide.
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Is Driving a Lawn Mower on the Road Legal or Not?
In most US states, lawnmowers are not given the state legal status and cannot be taken out on the street. If you have never encountered it, you might wonder what the term “street legal” means. To drive legally on the streets, any vehicle must have a license to drive on the street, a license number, headlights, and signals for turning on the road.
Most US states do not even consider mowers to be proper motor vehicles, especially those with sketchy laws. You will likely need a license number or a license to drive on the road. If you are caught by the cops out on the street taking your mower to your friend’s house, you will most definitely get fined.
In some states, the laws that define street legality are even tougher. A vehicle must also possess an indicator, both front and rear lights, a speedometer, and an emission compliance license to get a license.
This is not to mention having proper safety equipment like seatbelts, rearview mirrors, windscreen wipers, windshields, etc. They also check if the vehicle is properly insured, with taxes paid regularly. Unfortunately, no riding lawn mower manufactured so far will tick all these boxes.
– Highway Rules and Regulations
It is logical to assume that if you cannot legally drive lawnmowers out on the street, they are most definitely not allowed on the highway. Trust us; this is for your safety as well as that of fellow highway drivers. For starters, even large-sized riding types of mowers are built quite low and need to be properly visible to be seen by other riders.
Not being visible makes them a serious health hazard. Driving a mower on the highway is also irritating because highways are supposed to transport people at high speeds between large distances.
Most riding mowers have an average speed of around five to six miles per hour, while even the fastest type of riding mower barely goes over 15 miles per hour at its best performance. This will not be allowed in most highways, where the minimum speed limit is 35 to 40 miles per hour.
Driving this slowly is again a violation of traffic laws, and you will most definitely get an additional speeding ticket. Your slow-moving mower will impede traffic and get many honks from irritated drivers as you go. Unless you seriously want to break several laws by taking your mower on the highway, we suggest you load it onto a truck for transportation instead.
– Sidewalk Rules and Regulations
This is to be expected, but you cannot drive your mower even on the sidewalks. While most cops will be forgiving with you driving the mower over to your friend’s house a few blocks away, this is still illegal. This is because sidewalks are primarily for pedestrians to walk on and ride their bicycles.
Self-propelled vehicles and machines are not allowed by the law on sidewalks. This includes not only your mower but also E-bikes and electric scooters. This is also understandable from the point of view of pedestrian safety.
Lawnmowers are not particularly famous for excellent maneuverability, and it takes work to control them in unexpected situations, like if a child or pet suddenly runs in front of them.
Some people might think that this rule is not so strict and consider sidewalks as public property. We want to burst this bubble and warn you to stay away from the sidewalks. The laws regarding this are so strict in some states that your mower might get confiscated and its operating license revoked. You will then have to present before the court and pay a heavy fine before it is returned to you.
– Why They Are Not Street Legal
Riding lawn mowers are not street legal in most states because there is a bit of controversy regarding their status as a proper vehicle. Technically, any machine responsible for transporting people from one place to another comes under the definition of a vehicle.
This is even more true if the machine is self-propelled and does not have to be ridden by force like a bicycle. Many people and lawmakers disagree that the riding types of mowers should be considered vehicles even though they carry a person around from one place to another and are self-propelled.
They argue this on the basis that a mower primarily intends to cut and carry grass and not the person.
That is why most state laws do not consider mowers to be vehicles at all. Hence, the law does not allow them to be out on the road where they do not belong. Even in the few states where mowers are given vehicular status, they do not consider it a vehicle when stolen.
Because there is so much confusion surrounding the legal status of mowers, it is best to get information to see what your state and county’s local laws say about taking them out on the street. Unless the law explicitly states that you can ride the mower on the road, consider it illegal.
– Rural Areas
In the US, riding mowers can be driven on the roads in certain rural areas and the countryside. This makes sense because there is not much traffic on the roads in the countryside. Most of the time, small towns in the countryside need proper roads. Technically, you can take your mower out for a ride on dirt roads and the street.
Still, we advise you to make sure this is legal by checking in with the local laws of the countryside. Slow-moving tractors and lawnmowers can be driven on the streets in many areas. Of course, you must apply for a mower driving license first because driving without a license is illegal, even in the countryside.
In many rural roads, the lower speed limit is also quite low, around 25 miles per hour. Research shows that most drivers drive at least 10 miles above the lowest speed limit.
This means that most cars driving in the countryside will be slow enough to notice your tiny lawnmower driving ahead. Although this reduces the danger of driving a mower on the road, you are still taking the mower out at great personal risk.
– License for Driving a Mower Legally
There is no need for a license to drive a mower to mow the grass on a lawn or within your property. Although we do not encourage this, even underage people are permitted by the law to take a mower out and mow the lawn as long as they do not take it out on the streets. However, if your local laws permit driving them on the street or the road, you must get a driving license first.
To get a driving permit for your mower, you must first submit evidence that it has all the safety equipment installed. The most important are the rear and headlights, a seat belt, and an indicator.
In some states like California, your riding-style mower should follow the state’s carbon emission laws to get a driving license. Once approved, your mower will be issued a license plate, and you will get another driving license just for your mower.
– Factors That Will Get a Mower License Revoked
First, once you have been issued the license to ride a mower outside your house, all the usual traffic rules apply to you. Not following any of those will get you in trouble with the law. Don’t expect special treatment just because you are driving a mower because you are the one with more responsibility here.
Second, there are certain additional precautionary laws you must obey so as not to get in trouble. All riding-style mowers are specified for use by a single person only, and you cannot use them as a taxi for carrying people from one place to another.
This is a serious crime that will put your license at risk. Having a child on board is even more dangerous, and many courts will take both your license and mower away for this.
While underage children can drive this mower within a bounded property like a lawn or a garden, they will get in trouble if they take it outside on the road. Who will get in trouble in any such case? The parent or the guardian, even if their mower had a license plate.
Lastly, driving a mower on the road under the influence will get you a DIU ticket and a summon order for the court. If you enjoy having a beer or two as you mow your grass on the lawn, do so by all means.
However, doing the same on the street will get you in serious trouble, even if you are essentially riding a vehicle that barely goes beyond six miles an hour.
– Display a Sign While Riding a Mower on the Road
This might surprise many of you, but in certain states, you must carry a sign if you need to take the mower out on the road, just in case. This sign is a must, even if this comprises only crossing the road from one side to another.
This sign is simply a red colored triangle that is to be displayed at the back of the riding type of mower. This sign indicates that this is a slow-moving vehicle and is a warning sign for speeding vehicles to prevent unwanted accidents.
With this sign put on, you should also know not to drive the mower in the fast lane. Again, this rule is applicable only in rural areas where it is legal and permitted to drive licensed mowers on the road.
Now you know that riding and driving a lawn mower out on the street is not legal in most parts of the United States. Let us summarize this guide on mower legality as our final thoughts.
- So many people wonder about lawn mower street legality, and we must tell you that it is illegal in most cases.
- Lawn mowers are not allowed to be driven on the roads or even in sidewalks around the country.
- Lawnmowers are road legal only in certain rural areas and within dirt roads in the countryside, and only if you have a license.
- You can only get a license to drive a lawn mower outside the lawn after following certain strict guidelines.
After going through our complete guide on the lawnmower’s street legal status, we hope you will give up on any ideas regarding taking the mower out for a drive. Refrain from being irritated by the strict laws in this case because, by breaking them, you will be putting yourself and others at potential risk.