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NONTRADITIONAL VEHICLES - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Before You Buy

With environmental and economic issues on the minds of today’s drivers, many are turning to alternative means of transportation. While buying the right nontraditional vehicle may be a good way to save money and protect the environment, there are a few things you need to be aware of before you purchase.

small nontraditional vehicle

Not all nontraditional transportation vehicles are legal on the streets or highways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets forth federal safety standards and defines a motor vehicle as:

A vehicle that is driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads and highways.Those vehicles that do not fall under this definition are considered not for highway use vehicles. They are not registered and titled and may not meet federal safety standards. These include certain motor scooters and low horsepower motorcycles. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will only title and register vehicles if the vehicle meets the above definition and has a 17 digit VIN number or if the vehicle was previously titled in another state.

Before you purchase a nontraditional vehicle with the intent to drive it on our roads and highways you need to first make sure it is designed and approved for such use and not intended solely as an off-road vehicle. Prospective buyers should consider the following:

  • How is the vehicle being advertised? If advertised for off-road only, it cannot be driven or ridden on roads and highways.
  • Does the vehicle have a warning label affixed to it stating that the vehicle is not intended for use on the public roads?

nontraditional/alternate vehicles

If the vehicle is advertised for on-road use prospective buyers should consider or ask the following questions:

  • Does the vehicle have a 17 digit VIN number?
  • Does it meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s standards and definition as a motor vehicle or motorcycle?
  • Is the dealer or seller willing to assist you in obtaining certificates of origin or title documents that are necessary to register the vehicle?

If the answer is no to any of these, you may want to do a little more research before purchasing the vehicle. If you have any questions about whether a vehicle can be driven on Florida’s roads or highways, you can contact the Division of Motor Vehicles Regional Office in your area.

More information on titles and registrations and insurance requirements is available on our website at www.flhsmv.gov.



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