Modifications to off road vehicles could make them street legal

A new law will allow modified off road vehicles to be used on the roadways.

GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Off road vehicles (ORV's) are a popular way to explore trail areas across northern Michigan.

Before he left office, former Governor Rick Snyder signed House Bill 5639 which would allow four-wheel off road vehicles to be street legal if they undergo certain modifications.

Daniel Leonard has owned a four-wheel RZR UTV since 2016.

He loves using it to explore nature and spend time with his family.

"We use it as a form of recreation. My wife and I recently had a small child and as she matures it's kind of a great way to introduce them to the outdoors," said Leonard.

Leonard says he's excited to to be able to use his UTV on the roads.

"To change an ORV vehicle to an on road vehicle for titling you have to do like DOT tires, windshields, safety belts, blinkers, horns, things like that," said Tom McDonald, the manager at Epic Powersports.

He says they have gotten dozens of calls from people about to how to get the right parts to make their UTV's and off road vehicles road ready.

Leonard has already ordered parts and is excited for the change.

"It's not uncommon for us to be driving on trail systems that exist in the Traverse City area and run into dead ends," said Leonard.

McDonald says it wasn't that long ago that people were able to get a title to make an off road vehicle road ready.

"We used to be able to do them as an assembled title so basically an assembled vehicle so what you could do as far as the modifications again was adding a DOT windshield to it, tires, a blinker kit, safety belt, things like that and it wasn't that hard of a process to do. Then there was kind of a safety concern from some people and they made it unable to do it at that point in 2014," said McDonald.

Despite safety concerns in the past about using UTV's and ORV's alongside cars McDonald and Leonard think the modifications will help.

"If there was a collision to it or say if a vehicle in front of you hit a rock it kicked up a rock it has a DOT windshield where it wouldn't shatter, it wouldn't come in on the driver or the passengers," said McDonald.

"The fact that every one of these is required to have a role cage is a major comfort for me so if there's an impact of any sort that should help," said Leonard.

As for Leonard he's excited to get more use out of his UTV.

"The population of northern Michigan that lives here and has the ability to open their garage door now and utilize this as a normal vehicle to go get groceries or to make a quick trip to town or spend the entire weekend running around trail system to trail system," said Leonard.

McDonald says the cost of getting a title to make an off road vehicle road ready could vary from 800 to 1500 dollars depending on what people want.

The law goes into effect 90 days after it was signed so people can expect to see modified off road vehicles and UTV's on the roads sometime in March.

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