Mini trucks are in many cases a great alternative to pricey ATVs and other utility vehicles.
But there is a lot of confusion over whether you can use them on public roads because of age and emission restrictions.
Are mini trucks street legal?
Mini trucks are street legal in many states. In some states, you can drive them on public roads while other states are restricting the use and only allow them on private properties.
In this article, we look at the legal status of mini trucks in all the states of the U.S.A. You can also explore whether LED lights inside cars are legal.
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Before We Get Started
The rules differ from state to state; even the federal government has different rules for importing and operating mini trucks in the USA.
Whether you are considering buying a mini truck for farming, landscaping, or delivery purposes, read on to learn more about the legal status of these vehicles in your state.
Local vehicle manufacturers championed the law to stymy external competition.
You can drive mini trucks legally as off-road vehicles in all 50 states of the US. They are widely used on farms, unpaved roads, and private properties such as resorts and golf courses.
However, many states allow mini trucks to use public roads, albeit with certain restrictions because most of these vehicles lack EPA-compliant engines for road use.
Below, we provide state-by-state rules on the use of mini trucks on public roads.
States with no mini-truck laws often prohibit their use on public roads. But you may still use them in off-road situations.
Alabama residents can use mini trucks on any public roads except interstate highways. The speed limit is 25 mph.
Alaska has no state laws regarding mini truck use. But based on the reciprocity of state motor vehicle registration, Alaska may allow non-residents to operate a vehicle registered in another state for 60 days.
As of 17 July 2009, the Arizona Department of Transportation declared mini trucks legal for use on public roads.
However, the owner must complete and submit the Highway Use Certificate and make sure the vehicle complies with all extant safety and equipment requirements for the duration of its registration.
Arizona allows on-road use of mini trucks with a speed limit of 55 mph.
However, the vehicles are restricted from controlled-access highways and interstate highways if you register them for farm use.
Mini trucks are allowed for street use only in California. You cannot use them on the highway but there are no restrictions on their use for off-road purposes.
Mini trucks are not street legal in Colorado. You can only use them in off-road situations such as on the farm.
In CT, mini trucks are road legal and easy to register.
The state of Delaware has no laws regarding the use of mini trucks on its streets and highways.
District of Columbia
The District of Columbia has no laws regarding the legality of using mini trucks on the street or highways.
Florida allows registered mini trucks to operate only on streets with posted speed limit of 35 mph or less.
You cannot drive mini trucks on the road and highways in Georgia. Sometimes, it is possible to drive them on the road if you can prove the vehicle is for farm use.
You cannot use mini trucks on public roads in Hawaii as the state has no laws or regulations guiding their operation on State roads.
Mini trucks are allowed to use Idaho Transport Board roads and as a local option without speed restrictions.
Note that these vehicles are classified as UTVs in the state.
Local ordinance allows mini trucks with a posted speed limit of 25 mph and roads with a speed limit of less than 35 mph.
Indiana allows mini trucks on its public roads and highways without speed restrictions.
But the driver must have a vehicle title and registration.
Iowa does not allow the use of mini trucks on its public roads.
Mini trucks can be used in cities if a local ordinance permit. You can also use them on public roads except state and federal highways and interstates.
Mini trucks are street legal in places where local ordinances allow but they can only be used to cross state roads. There are no speed restrictions.
You can use mini trucks freely in Louisiana with a speed limit under 55 mph.
They cannot be used on controlled access highways, multi-lined divided highways with partial or no control of access and interstate highways.
The state of Maine allows mini trucks on roads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph.
Maryland does not allow the use of mini trucks on public roads.
Massachusetts has one of the strictest transport laws in the union and does not allow mini trucks on its roads.
The state of Michigan does not allow the use of mini trucks on its roads.
You can only use mini trucks in municipalities with local ordinances that permit it.
It is legal to use mini trucks on Mississippi public roads but you need to provide a bill of sale, $100 title bond and an application of ownership.
Mini trucks can be used in Missouri by local ordinance and they are restricted to a 45 mph speed limit.
As far as we cal tell, mini trucks are street legal in the state of New York. That said, there have been several instances of people being pulled over and getting in trouble.
However, the law should be clear that you can drive your mini truck outside your private property.
You may use a mini truck in Montana if the local ordinance allows it.
You can use mini trucks on all public Nebraska roads without speed restrictions except on freeways, expressways and interstate highways.
It is unlawful to use mini trucks on public roads in Nevada.
New Hampshire allows the use of mini trucks with a 35 mph speed restriction. However, the vehicle must be used within 25 miles of the driver’s residence or place of business.
New Jersey prohibits mini trucks on public roads.
Mini trucks are not allowed on public roads in New Mexico.
On June 21, 2019, Governor Cooper of North Carolina signed into law the HB 179, thus allowing mini trucks to be licensed and used on all NC roads.
Mini trucks can be used on roads with a posted speed limit of 55 mph. They are restricted from roads with speed limits over 65 mph.
Where local ordinances permit, you can use mini trucks on roads with a posted speed limit below 35 mph.
Mini trucks are allowed on Oklahoma roads with no speed limitations. But they cannot use the interstate.
You cannot use mini trucks on the roadways of Oregon State. In fact, their use as off-road vehicles is also strictly restricted as you can only use them to move from one part of your farm to another.
Mini trucks are not street legal in Pennsylvania.
Rhode Island does not allow the use of mini trucks on state roads.
There are no laws guiding the use of mini trucks in South Carolina
Mini trucks are not allowed on state roads in South Dakota.
Tennessee allows mini trucks on roads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less. However, this is subject to local ordinances.
The state of Texas does not allow the use of mini trucks on its roads.
You can use mini trucks on Utah roads with a 50 mph speed restriction or less except on the interstate.
Mini trucks are not street legal in Vermont and even registering them can be a hassle.
You cannot use kei trucks on Virginia highways. But you can use them for farm purposes.
Mini trucks are street legal in Washington. You will see them all over Seattle, as a reader told us.
You can only use mini trucks on West Virginia roads when moving farm product and livestock from a farm along the state highway to a storage or packing facility within a distance of 35 miles.
2022 update: The 35-mile mark is supposedly downgraded to 20 miles!
Mini trucks are street legal in Wisconsin. But the vehicle must be 25 years old and above and you will need to register with collector plates.
Drivers in Wyoming can drive their mini trucks on any roads except for interstate highways. While there are no speed restrictions, the vehicle must use the extreme right-hand edge of the highway if it’s unable to achieve the maximum speed allowed on a specific roadway.
And that’s it.
None of the 50 states allow mini trucks on interstate highways.
This restriction is for safety reasons as most kei trucks can only make 65 mph which is lower than the speed limit on interstates.
Also, mini trucks don’t meet U.S road safety requirements and the older models use non-EPA engines that cannot pass emission tests for public roads.
The 25 Year Rule Is Important
The 25-year rule is an exception to the plethora of legislation that makes it difficult to import and use mini trucks in the US.
Under this rule, mini trucks over 25 years old or more are exempted from DOT regulations.
In the same vein, mini trucks which are 21 years old or more are exempt from EPA emission restrictions.
So long as you comply with registration, insurance and state rules regarding these vehicles, this quarter of century-old mini trucks are good to go.
You might want to ask why such long years?
The reason is that mini trucks were historically made in Japan by Daihatsu, Suzuki, and Mitsubishi and to a lesser extent Nissan and Honda which is why they are called Japanese Kei trucks.
To protect their investments and market, U.S. automobile manufacturers lobbied Congress and state legislatures to ramp up restrictions on the importation of these venerable workhorses.
If you are considering buying one of a mini truck, check with your state Department of Motor Vehicles on their street use status.
We have tried to make the information in this piece as factual as possible, but laws can change with time in individual states.
States with large numbers of dealerships who import these vehicles are under pressure to make them street legal.
Conversely, states where the U.S made automobile dealers hold sway take a stricter view to the use of mini trucks.
In fact, many states are in the process of allowing or restricting their use on public roads at this moment.
To get maximum value for your investment in a Kei truck, ask your DMV guys and reputable dealerships a lot of questions before sinking money into this vehicle.