Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in Kentucky

Kentucky sets a handful of laws specific to protecting the environment. These green vehicle and eco-friendly driving regulations might evolve as KY focuses more heavily on environmental issues, unlike the general traffic laws which rarely change. Stay abreast with the latest by also consulting the Kentucky Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing (MVL) and the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC).

Whether you drive a plug-in electric car, a hybrid, a fuel-efficient vehicle, or are in the market to buy an alternative fuel vehicle, also check out check out our KY green driver incentives section for money-saving perks.

Kentucky Green Vehicle Registration and Emissions Testing

KY residents who use our public roads must register their vehicles with the Division of Motor Vehicles. However, at this time, the Kentucky MVL offers no vehicle registration perks—such as reduced fees or emissions test exemptions—for driving a fuel efficient car or alternative fuel vehicle. In fact, Kentucky does not test emissions at all. For more on why KY lacks an emissions test requirement for vehicle registration and car registration renewal, consult our page titled Kentucky Smog & Emissions Checks.

KY Roadway Access for Low-Speed Vehicles

If you wish to drive a fuel-efficient, low-speed vehicle on Kentucky roads, be aware of the requirements. These include:

Additionally, your low-speed vehicle must comply with the safety standards spelled out in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49 (section 571.500).

Where to Operate a Low-Speed Vehicle

You can drive a low-speed vehicle on Kentucky roads that have a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less as long as you haven't made modifications to increase its speed above the original (and standard) manufactured limit.

What is a Low-Speed Vehicle?

Kentucky defines a low-speed vehicle as any four-wheeled vehicle made to reach a top speed of 25 mph by way of:

  • An electric motor.
  • A combustion-driven motor.
  • Or a combo of an electric and combustion-driven motor.

Natural Gas Safety Regulations

Operating a vehicle that runs on natural gas means getting familiar with KY regulations set by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Keep in mind that this entity:

  • Sets the rules regarding the qualification of an individual to conduct safety inspections.
  • May alter Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to suit state use.
  • Determines whether a converted motor vehicle is compliant with applicable Kentucky regulations.

For more on this, refer to KY House Bill 212, 2013. For further clarification on the terms used in the safety regulation below, refer to the following section on how Ky defines alternative fuels and conversion.

Converted Vehicles Inspections and Compliance

When you convert a vehicle to run on compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, or a bi-fuel system, you must get it inspected. This proves your vehicle complies with FMVSS. You must get it inspected:

  • Every three years or every 36,000 miles (whichever occurs first). Use the original date of conversion to calculate when you should take the vehicle in for an inspection.
  • After a collision (only if your vehicle was going at least 5 miles per hour).
  • After a collision if your vehicle was originally designed and built to use either CNG or LNG (again, only if you were traveling at 5 mph or more).

Regulations for Performing a Natural Gas Vehicle Conversion

Those who conduct the actual converting of a natural gas vehicle must be able to prove to the owner that the conversion doesn’t alter:

  • The current vehicle emissions system.
  • The existing diagnostic system.

In some cases, the conversion cannot be applied without effecting one or both of the above. Therefore, the State allows for necessary and unavoidable changes.

How Kentucky Defines Alternative Fuels and Conversion

The gamut of what the State refers to as clean transportation fuels includes:

  • Liquefied petroleum gas (also known as propane).
  • Compressed natural gas (CNG).
  • Liquefied natural gas (LNG.)
  • Electricity.

Along with those listed above, KY also recognizes other transportation fuels with similar emissions as clean transportation fuels. The following three are sold and used as fuel for motor vehicles. Learn more by reading their definitions below.

Compressed Natural Gas—Compressed pipeline-quality natural gas.

Liquefied Natural Gas—Pipeline-quality natural gas that's been treated for removing water, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and other parts that will otherwise freeze and condense into liquid form.

Propane—The by-product of processed natural gas and refined petroleum. When condensed into liquid form, this hydrocarbon mixture can be used as motor fuel.

The terms you should know for alternative fuel conversion include:

Bi-fuel system—The clean-fuel, power system of motor vehicles that run on a combination of gasoline and either compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas.

Conversion—The act of altering a motor vehicle or special mobile equipment by either:

  • Repowering it by replacing the engine (originally powered by gasoline or diesel fuel) with one that runs on clean transportation fuel.
  • Retrofitting its parts so the original gasoline or diesel engine can now run on clean transportation fuel.
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