Is It Legal To Drive With The Tailgate Down?

  • Each state has its regulations regarding the legality of driving with the tailgate down.
  • Most of the same states that do not have a law forbidding tailgate positions also do not regulate if you can drive without a tailgate.
  • Some tailgates are designed to be removed with the tailgate down; when you are driving, it can shake and fall off!
  • Driving with your tailgate down could lead to a stolen tailgate

You may not know this, but driving with the tailgate down is illegal. OR IS IT?

Well, it depends on which state you live in. I know that is a lame answer, but it is true. State laws limit how you can drive regarding your tailgate, truck bed, and everything in between.

I live in California but often travel in the southwest and occasionally through the south. So I did some research to find out if there are any states that have an iron fist on how I can drive with my tailgate down.

There are no national laws that restrict the operation of a motor vehicle with a rear tailgate in a certain position. Each state has its own regulations if it is legal to drive with the tailgate down.

In some states, the tailgate needs to be secured or fastened so it can’t move while the truck is in operation. In the following states it is illegal to drive with your truck tailgate down or unsecured:

  • KS, IL, MI, MN, TX, MD, NE, NJ

The following states have no laws restricting driving a pickup with the tailgate down:

  • AK, AR, CA, CO, CT, D.C., DL, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NM, NV, NY, PA, OH, OR, RI, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY

Is Driving Without A Tailgate Illegal?

Yes, in most states. Most of the same states that do not have a law forbidding tailgate positions also do not regulate if you can drive without a tailgate. So most states it is legal to drive with no tailgate.

Is It Legal To Drive With The Tailgate Down, Is It Legal To Drive With The Tailgate Down?, Mad Digi

Will Driving With Tailgate Down Damage Your Truck?

Driving with your tailgate down can be done safely. But you should understand that it can cause damage if other drivers are not aware and they may inadvertently hit the tailgate while in operation.

Also, if you are driving your truck with the tailgate down make sure you check the bed so you are not carrying any cargo that may fall out while moving. Also, some tailgates are designed to be removed with the tailgate down and when you are driving it can shake and fall off! That may be an expensive error.

If you want to protect your investment, it might be worth considering how fast you drive and whether or not a lower speed would have an impact on the wear and tear of your vehicle.

Your truck’s tailgate could be stolen when left unattended as well. Texas and California are dramatically worse for stolen tailgates. That makes the most sense because these two states have the most trucks:

Is It Legal To Drive With The Tailgate Down, Is It Legal To Drive With The Tailgate Down?, Mad Digi

Can A Locked Tailgate Be Stolen?

No, a locked tailgate will not be stolen unless the thieve can pick the tailgate lock or destroy your truck bed. Driving with your tailgate down could lead to a stolen tailgate. But here are some locks that let you do it for relatively cheap.

Most states do not restrict driving without a tailgate. So basically, it is legal to drive with no tailgate in most of the U.S., except for some exceptions like California and New York where there are specific laws requiring trucks to have rear-view mirrors (and therefore needing at least one side of your vehicle’s bed open).

Truck tailgates come in many sizes, shapes, and materials. They can be made from wood, metal, or plastic. The easiest tailgate to remove is the bolt-on tailgate. In most cases, you only need a socket wrench for this simple task. If your truck bed has a built-in tailgate that’s not removable, you can have it replaced with an aftermarket drop-in bed liner.

If you are looking to purchase a new truck, be careful to get one that has a bolt-on tailgate. This type of gate is easier to remove and replace if stolen or broken into pieces. Also, don’t forget to get the right lock for your tailgate.

Takeaways: Driving With The Tailgate Down

The law is clear. You can’t drive with your tailgate down in most states, but there are some exceptions to the rule.

For example, if you’re driving on a highway or freeway and need to use your truck’s bed for transporting goods, it might make sense to lower the tailgate so that cargo doesn’t fly out when going over bumps.

Other times this may be necessary too – like loading up at Home Depot after hours where they have metal detectors before entering the store instead of just leaving their items behind in order to avoid getting scanned by security guards. If you find yourself needing to transport things in an unsafe manner due to these kinds of situations, know that no one will bother citing you unless someone complains about it being

Driving with your truck tailgate down is illegal in most states. The prosecution of this crime varies from state to state, but the general rule seems to be that if you drive with a loaded trailer and don’t lower it when not traveling, then you’re breaking the law and could face fines or other penalties.

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