Guide to Polaris Slingshot Laws in NYC
The Polaris Slingshot is a popular three-wheeled motorcycle with an enclosed or covered cab. Or is it? Under the law in NYC, does a Slingshot actually count as a motorcycle – and do you need a motorcycle license to drive one? Is a Slingshot even street-legal?
The short answer is that NY law actually allows you to drive it with a normal Class D driver’s license even though the vehicle technically falls under the classification of “motorcycle.” While it used to be treated exactly like a motorcycle and required a Class M license, that law was changed in 2022. It is, however, important to understand safety rules for these vehicles.
If you were injured in an accident, call the NYC car accident lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083.
Are Polaris Slingshots Legal in NYC?
Driving a Polaris Slingshot on the streets of New York State is indeed legal. As long as the vehicle is made properly and conforms to specifications approved by the government, these vehicles should be considered street-legal throughout New York, including in NYC. If you have any doubts about the legality of your vehicle, check with our Brooklyn car accident lawyers and the vehicle manufacturer. You can also read New York’s laws yourself to confirm – the requirements for equipment on a motorcycle (which includes Slingshots for this purpose) can be found in V.A.T. Law § 381.
If you’ve made modifications to your vehicle, even if they were done by a professional, they could prevent your Slingshot from being street-legal, so make sure to check the law.
Do You Need a Driver’s License to Drive a Polaris Slingshot in NYC?
In the past, New York law treated Polaris Slingshots as motorcycles and required a motorcycle license (Class M license) to drive one. In New York, there are multiple possible classifications for how the law could treat a Slingshot, including as a motorcycle, as a car, or as something in between, like a moped or scooter.
Under New York law – specifically V.A.T. Law § 501(d) – a Class D driver’s license is the proper class of license for vehicles with three wheels in the front, one wheel in the back, a steering wheel, seat belts, and seating that doesn’t have you straddle the vehicle. That pretty closely describes the Polaris Slingshot, and these laws were intended to make sure that it was clear that vehicles like a Slingshot are covered under a standard Class D driver’s license.
Class D licenses are the basic everyday driver’s license in New York. Other license types also incorporate the privileges of a Class D license, so if you have a Class C, B, or A license, that should also cover your Slingshot. Class M licenses also specifically cover the same three-wheeled vehicle description, meaning that a motorcycle license will indeed cover a Slingshot as well, but you do not specifically need a motorcycle license to drive one.
Do You Have to Wear a Helmet in a Slingshot in NYC?
Despite the fact that you don’t need a motorcycle license to drive a Slingshot in NYC, it still falls under the legal definition of a motorcycle. People often refer to a Slingshot as an “autocycle,” but state law in New York does not make this distinction and has no separate definition for autocycles. That means that all safety and registration requirements for Slingshots follow the same standards as motorcycle laws.
Thus, when you ride a Slingshot in NYC, you need both a helmet and eye protection. Helmets must typically be DOT approved, and you can usually rely on that DOT sticker as proof that your helmet will be sufficient. Eye protection can include a built-in visor on the helmet or separate goggles (again, meeting certain safety standards).
Slingshots also have seat belts, so you must wear them.
Can You Take a Polaris Slingshot on the Highway in NYC
Some vehicles have limited uses. For example, scooters and e-bikes cannot be used on streets with a speed limit over 30mph. Since a Slingshot is a motorcycle (not a scooter) and can be driven with a normal driver’s license, there do not appear to be any restrictions that would prevent them from going on highways.
Generally speaking, all streets in New York are legally defined as “highways” under V.A.T. Law § 118. There are separate distinctions for what we casually call “highways,” but none of these definitions would exclude motorcycles generally nor Slingshots specifically from being used there.
As mentioned above, as long as the vehicle is equipped following the rules of § 381, it should qualify for use on any road in the state that you would be allowed to drive a motorcycle or car on.
Can You Sue After Sustaining Injuries from an Accident on a Polaris Slingshot in NYC?
Victims of auto accidents often worry that they might have a harder time getting compensation for a crash if they were not in a car or truck. Generally speaking, victims riding motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, mopeds, and any other smaller vehicle face more serious injuries in a crash, but this does not necessarily mean you should be unable to sue. It does, however, make your case more serious.
Motorcycle riders and operators/passengers in a Slingshot should have every right to sue after an auto accident in NYC or anywhere else in the state. Generally, car accident cases in New York have restrictions on lawsuits under NY’s no-fault rules. However, motorcycles – including Slingshots in this case – should be exempt from those no-fault rules and the restrictions on lawsuits. In a normal car accident, you would typically need to show you have “serious injuries” before you can sue, but you can sue with minor or moderate injuries for a Polaris Slingshot accident.
However, many victims will ultimately face more serious injuries, and they should take their cases very seriously.
Many drivers try to blame motorcyclists, scooter riders, moped riders, and Slingshot riders because their vehicle is not as big or visible or safe. However, the law gives you every right to take these vehicles on the road, and it is up to every driver to look out for other riders on the road. A crash should not be considered “your fault” just because you were riding a Slingshot.
Call Our Car and Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today
For a free review if you have been involved in a crash, call the NYC motorcycle accident lawyers at The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083.