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  • Special Vehicles in Hawaii

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    Special Vehicle Registration in Hawaii

    If you own a vehicle other than a standard car in Hawaii, you may be required to register it even though you don't plan on operating it on public roads or highways. Even if you're not required to register it, each Hawaii county has rules and regulations that you must follow when operating these vehicles.

    All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) in Hawaii

    The state of Hawaii does not permit the use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in any state parks or on public roads. That basically rules out beaches, as well. Yet dealers continue to market ATVs in Hawaii and the machines continue to go out the door.

    Currently, Hawaii does not have any licensing regulations for ATVs.

    If you purchase an ATV, you should keep in mind that there are allotted spaces on the islands that allow off-road riding. Make sure to ask your dealer where these locations are so you don't violate any state laws. Presently, the law allows for citations if you are caught riding on a public road or beach in the state.

    Electric Carts/Global Electronic Mobile Cars

    The islands of Hawaii have plenty of environs that are conducive to what the state calls "neighborhood electric carts," or global electronic mobile (GEM) cars. The electric motor means the vehicles are emissions-free and perfectly quiet.

    These custom carts that come in all sorts of designs can zoom along the roads (some at speeds topping 20 MPH) and use the public roadways. Not the main drags of towns by any means, but you will see them in quite a few neighborhoods around the islands.

    Thus, the vehicles need to be registered. The process is much like registering a regular vehicle, including the need for a personal visit to your local Hawaii DMV office. There are, however, just a couple of differences.

    The first difference is that the Hawaii DMV requires you to sign an affidavit stating the vehicle meets the conditions of state's statute, which restricts:

    • Operation of the GEM at 25 MPH or faster.
    • Operation of the vehicle on any Hawaii highway with a speed limit above 35 MPH. (Crossing such a highway at an intersection is allowed.)

    The statute also requires that you have all restrictions printed and displayed in your GEM car so the driver has clear view of these at all times.

    The second difference is the type of license plates the electric vehicle receives.

    Scooters and Mopeds in Hawaii

    Registration requirements for scooters, mopeds, and other motor-driven cycles varies by location. Contact your local Hawaii DMV office for information.

    Hawaii DMV Office Locations

    To learn about rules and regulations for special vehicles in your specific Hawaii county, contact the appropriate county office:

    Registering Other Vehicles

    If you have a standard car, boat, motorhome, custom-built car, or motorcycle, you must have it registered with the Hawaii DMV. For more information, visit our following pages:

    NOTE: Registering your recreational vehicle (RV) or motorhome is usually the same process as registering your standard car in Hawaii.