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Jon-D

off road tires on road - anyone get a ticket?

30 posts in this topic

Just curious. I have some tires that I took off my MX bike but still have plenty of knobs left on them so I figure I would run them on the mighty XR. Has anyone ever received a ticket for non-DOT tires while riding on the street?

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This just came up recently.

About 10 different officers have told me that - "no, but if there was an accident everything would be looked at" or something like that.

Then someone in So Cal said that tickets were given - but because the area was plagued with impolite people (riders)....

.

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I've been riding my street legal 650R on the street for the last 4 years. Sometimes I had DOT knobs (MT21's), sometimes I didn't. I've never been pulled on my bike thankfully, so it's hard to say. However, I would think ANY cop COULD give you a hard time if you have real aggressive knobs on, DOT or not. You can just tell by looking at them, they are dirt tires, not street tires. In general though, I think they will be more interested in giving you a speeding ticket than checking to see if your lights/tires/etc... are DOT approved.

Simple answer, don't get pulled on the street doing stupid stuff, unless you are in SM mode with sportbike tires, save it for the woods with your knobs. These 650R's eat tires like nothing anyway, if you put any miles on the street, the knobs will be gone in ~700miles whether it's a DOT knob or MX knob, so you won't have to worry about the non-DOT tires for long :thumbsup: I'm actually thinking about going back to a regular dirt knob, like a 739 desert AT, as it should last as long as my MT21, but should work a bit better off road.

Just my $.02, cops around here don't even look at me when they drive by, I guess they figure that my little dual sport bike couldn't break the speed limits if it tried. Boy are they wrong :ride:

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DOT is federal stuff. You would have to be cited by them. Local or county can't write it as far as I know. I suppose if you caused an accident local LE could call in DOT if there was an issue related to the tires. Here in Idaho you can plate a ATV. They are everywhere where I live. No tire enforcement here. It has never been an issue in this state...

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Welp, I'm finally the proud owner of a 2001 plated xr650r (it's only been about 20 years since I last rode a bike). Just wanted to say this site has been a great help and the main reason I went with XR. Thanks to all who post on this site.

Anyway back to the original question. I am police officer in a big city so I don't see a whole lot of dirt bikes. I can't think of anything off the top of my head (California) that says they must be "DOT" tires. On the other hand, there's always the catch all "unsafe vehicle." I would never under estimate CHP or small town cops, they have a lot of time to research this stuff and enforce it. Generally, I don't think the cops would pull you over for just the tires, unless dirt bikes are a big problem in that area or he was interested in you.

I actually did pull an XR (pretty sure, it was red and white) over once. The guy was wearing a Harley helmet and leather jacker. As I was getting out of my car, he looked at me, smiled, shook his head and said "not today". He then took off. Stayed with him for a couple blocks until he U-turned over 2 foot high center median...he was gone after that.

Thanks again for all the help on this site. While I can't offer much motorcycle advice, if you guys have any law enforcement questions I will do my best to find you and answer.

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I don't think the issue is the police, but the insurance company. If there ever is an accident they could deny the claim based on non street legal tires. It's all about how much exposure you are willing to take!

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The answer is yes you could be cited for the non DOT tires. (Just for info Scorp the section is in Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations.) The biggest thing is if you draw attention to yourself, expect to be looked at. The Vehicle Code is a pretty thick book. Some have time to look at it all, some don't. Like Scorp said it depends on what agency you work for, and where you are at. If there is a problem with dirtbikes where you live, you better believe the local law enforcement will be educated as to the specific sections of the vehicle code.

There are usually a number of things that would be looked at before the tires. Just took at most of the kits from Baja Designs , Acerbis , and others that are made to dual sport off highway bikes. FYI folks they do not meet the requirements of the Vehicle Code (at least in California). You put on that smog block-off kit to shave a few pounds, another violation. You uncork your exhaust and it wont meet the sound level, another violation. The list goes on and on.

So, if you are driving slow, don't have a modified exhaust, or doing other things that would draw attention to you, would you get stopped? I would have to say probably not. If you were stopped and cited for the violation, it would be a correctable violation (a fix-it ticket) and could be signed off when you put your dot tires back on. This would result in a filing fee with the court, usually less than $20.

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DOT is federal stuff. You would have to be cited by them. Local or county can't write it as far as I know.

Many states have a DOT entity.

Texas has TXDOT. It has its requirements for safety and applicability for road use. We have state inspections designed to ensure motor vehicles are above the minimum standards for roadworthyness.

A DOT designator needs to be on the tires to pass safety inspection every year.

I would venture to guess no traffic cop would search for the DOT label on your tires, unless you were really being an a22, and he felt like running you thru the mill.

As far as telling if a tire is DOT just by looking at its aggressive appearance, most people would not be able to tell, reliably. Many DOT-approved knobbies look very dirt-only.

I have also heard that the DOT spec is the rubber compound, and not the tread pattern? Dunno. But the Kendas on my 250R look, ride, wear, and feel like 100% dirt. I really do not see how they qualified for DOT-approved.

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I've been pulled over in both my Street car (1969 Chevelle SS) with slicks on the back, and my supermoto with slicks and my old DR and XR with non DOT knobbies on them and never reveived a ticket or anything as much as a question! Granted I am courtous and respectful for their position and don't lie to them about the violation i was puled over for but I asked a few and they say DOT is not something they ever look for. So, as to a true ansewr, I'd go for it but your best bet is just spend the $150.00 and get a set of the finest DOT approved knobs on the planet, the Perelli MT21s! Then you don;t have to worry!

Sniper X

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Hey guys I run my old R knobbies on my L and shes going to get inspected tomorrow and with full non DOT knobs and we'll see what happens.... :thumbsup:

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Like others have said, it really varies by department and the officer. The first rule is "contempt of cop." If you give them an attitude, expect to get it back.

I've asked several law enforcement officers about this question and here is what I found out. The different agencies have different priorities.

  • Forest Service/BLM - Usually stop looking when they see a plate. I was once given a ticket for riding a green stickered bike on a paved road. The FS rangers bike had dirt knobbies and illegal turn signals. When I asked about DOT tires they said I might write you a ticket for being an idiot if you had DOT tires on your bike.
  • County Sheriff - Usually don't care. When I asked one out near Trona I got the same "You would be an idiot to use DOT tires here. I don't care" Then he told me about the Highway Patrol...
  • Local Police - If there are local issues with bikes expect to be hassled otherwise you should be OK
  • Highway Patrol - Zero tolerance. Both the Sheriff and the rangers have told me that if a Highway Patrol sees you on a plated dirt bike, they will stop you and go over the whole thing with a fine tooth comb

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I lived on a corner where the radar cops worked everyday. I asked them to look over my bike when I was converting it to on road. They asked if it had turn signals, when I replied yes they said that was fine. :thumbsup:

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Like others have said, it really varies by department and the officer. The first rule is "contempt of cop." If you give them an attitude, expect to get it back.

I've asked several law enforcement officers about this question and here is what I found out. The different agencies have different priorities.

  • Forest Service/BLM - Usually stop looking when they see a plate. I was once given a ticket for riding a green stickered bike on a paved road. The FS rangers bike had dirt knobbies and illegal turn signals. When I asked about DOT tires they said I might write you a ticket for being an idiot if you had DOT tires on your bike.
  • County Sheriff - Usually don't care. When I asked one out near Trona I got the same "You would be an idiot to use DOT tires here. I don't care" Then he told me about the Highway Patrol...
  • Local Police - If there are local issues with bikes expect to be hassled otherwise you should be OK
  • Highway Patrol - Zero tolerance. Both the Sheriff and the rangers have told me that if a Highway Patrol sees you on a plated dirt bike, they will stop you and go over the whole thing with a fine tooth comb

Yes, but thats in the republik of Kalifornia, I've lived in at least 10 other states, in the Army for 10 years, and never seen any agency do that. Even the in Deep South, where the Sherrif is sopposed to be a total ass, they werent, but you know what I mean, they didn;t do that. I guess the CHP is so political and after revenue so bad they are trained to do those "extras".

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Like others have said, it really varies by department and the officer. The first rule is "contempt of cop." If you give them an attitude, expect to get it back.

I've asked several law enforcement officers about this question and here is what I found out. The different agencies have different priorities.

  • Forest Service/BLM - Usually stop looking when they see a plate. I was once given a ticket for riding a green stickered bike on a paved road. The FS rangers bike had dirt knobbies and illegal turn signals. When I asked about DOT tires they said I might write you a ticket for being an idiot if you had DOT tires on your bike.
  • County Sheriff - Usually don't care. When I asked one out near Trona I got the same "You would be an idiot to use DOT tires here. I don't care" Then he told me about the Highway Patrol...
  • Local Police - If there are local issues with bikes expect to be hassled otherwise you should be OK
  • Highway Patrol - Zero tolerance. Both the Sheriff and the rangers have told me that if a Highway Patrol sees you on a plated dirt bike, they will stop you and go over the whole thing with a fine tooth comb

Unless I am missing something CHP focuses on the Freeways (YES there are exceptions). Personally that is not where I ride.

-when you asked about DOT tires to the non-chp LEOs - could they have thought you meant non-knobbies e.g. normal street tires?

.

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Unless I am missing something CHP focuses on the Freeways (YES there are exceptions). Personally that is not where I ride.

-when you asked about DOT tires to the non-chp LEOs - could they have thought you meant non-knobbies e.g. normal street tires?

.

For the most part the CHP is only on the freeways, but they do patrol some of the lesser roads out in the desert. One time at Dove springs I rode out to the Burro Schmit tunnel. I did go a few miles on the 14. When I pulled off the highway there was a BLM guy. He told me that the CHP would ticket for non DOT on the highway.

Another time I was on the road between Ridgecrest and Trona. I was pulled over by a Sheriff for passing a car on a doulbe yellow. I was talking to the guy for like 20 minutes on the side of the road. Didn't get the ticket. My bike was in the back and I asked him about the tire issue. He said the same thing. I don't care, but the CHP will ticket.

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For the most part the CHP is only on the freeways, but they do patrol some of the lesser roads out in the desert.

Agreed. The "non city" areas in the counties around here (sf bay area) are patrolled by CHPs and we have had them stop and talk to us while reading a map on the side of the road. Glanced at the plate and that was it.

It further re-enforces what I was told regarding enforcement may be stronger in areas which are used more frequently by dirt bikes since you are in So Cal.

.

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Just wanted to clear a few things up that were mentioned about law enforcement.

CHP patrols all freeways and state highways. There are no freeways in most of the eastern portion of the state, so they do patrol those areas also. Additionally any public access road, including dirt roads, could (though not very likely) be patrolled.

The CHP gets zero revenue from citations. All revenue goes to the local municipality that the violation occurred in.

NO law enforcement officer can stop you because he wants to. There is a little thing called probable cause that needs to be met. With that in mind, I refer to my earlier post that most of the time people draw attention to themselves, and it it usually in a negative light.

Like Coffee and I mentioned in our posts, if you are in an area where there are complaints about dirtbikes, or other motorcycles be cautious. Officers will educate themselves in regards to the law and will know the specifics in regards to equipment. This is where your buddies, mechanics, and sales folks will get you into trouble. They may believe they know the law, and will often give you information that is incorrect, and this will usually get you irritated at the officer who cites you for the violation.

Just be careful and ride safe :thumbsup:

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Just keep in mind (at least in CA) that all municipal police officers including CHP are empowered by the "State of California". Meaning, no matter where you see them (within CA), any police officer from ANY jurisdiction can give you a ticket (there are a few exceptions). Just because that cop car you see is from Los Angeles and you are in San Francisco, be aware he can still tag you.

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Just keep in mind (at least in CA) that all municipal police officers including CHP are empowered by the "State of California". Meaning, no matter where you see them (within CA), any police officer from ANY jurisdiction can give you a ticket (there are a few exceptions). Just because that cop car you see is from Los Angeles and you are in San Francisco, be aware he can still tag you.

That is my understanding also.

For the record we are talking about a fix it ticket right? Yes you may have to interrupt your day or something, but its nothing like a DUI or an accident, or even a speeding ticket.

.

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Even a "fix-it ticket" can have a bad affect on your plate if your bike is a conversion or "questionably" legal. I know I might have a little trouble passing a real inspection.

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