The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site -



Opinion No. 5563

September 18, 1979


Registration of self-propelled lawn mowers and snow blowers

Neither a self-propelled lawn mower nor a self-propelled snow blower need be registered as a motor vehicle when its movement on a highway is incidental to its use as a lawn mower or snow blower.

James G. Young

Prosecuting Attorney

Antrim County

County Building

Bellaire, Michigan 49615

You have requested my opinion on the following question:

Must a person register a riding lawn mower or self-propelled snow blower under provisions of the Michigan Vehicle Code if said piece of equipment is moved from one property to another on public streets?

You have informed me that for purposes of your question it is to be assumed that these pieces of equipment were not being used for transportation of persons, but rather for the mowing of lawns or the clearing of snow at their point of destination.

The Michigan Motor Vehicle Code, 1949 PA 300; MCLA 257.1 et seq; MSA 9.1801 et seq, requires the registration of vehicles, with certain specified exceptions. Penalties are provided should a person fail to obtain the requisite registration.

'It is a misdemeanor for any person to drive or move or for an owner knowingly to permit to be driven or moved upon any highway any vehicle of a type required to be registered hereunder which is not registered or for which a certificate of title has not been applied for or for which the appropriate fee has not been paid when and as required hereunder, except as provided in subsection (b) of section 217.' MCLA 257.215; MSA 9.1915 [Emphasis added]

Section 79 of the Motor Vehicle Code defines vehicle for purposes of the act:

"Vehicle' means every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices exclusively moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks and excepting a mobile home as defined in section 2 of Act No. 419 of the Public Acts of 1976, being section 125.1102 of the Michigan Compiled Laws.' MCLA 257.79; MSA 9.1879 [Emphasis added]

"Motor vehicle' means every vehicle which is self-propelled and every vehicle which is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails.' MCLA 257.33; MSA 9.1833

Thus, if either of these pieces of equipment is used to transport persons or property upon a highway, it must be registered.

Section 216 of the Motor Vehicle Code, however, sets forth certain exceptions from the registration requirement and the following exception is relevent:

'Every motor vehicle trailer coach, trailer, semitrailer, and pole trailer, when driven or moved upon a highway shall be subject to the registration and certificate of title provisions of this act except:

'. . .

'(d) Special mobile equipment for which the secretary of state may issue a special registration to an individual, partnership, corporation, or association not licensed as a dealer to identify the equipment when being moved over the streets and highways upon payment of the required fee, but the special registration shall not be issued to farm tractors and implements of husbandry as defined in sections 16 and 21.' MCLA 257.216; MSA 9.1916 [Emphasis added]

'Special mobile equipment' is defined by statute as follows:

"Special mobile equipment' means every vehicle not designed or used primarily for the transportation of persons or property and incidentally operated or moved over the highways, including farm tractors, road construction or maintenance machinery, mobile office trailers, mobile tool shed trailers, mobile trailer units used for housing stationary construction equipment, ditch-digging apparatus, well-boring and well-servicing apparatus. The foregoing enumeration shall be deemed partial and shall not operate to exclude other such vehicles which are within the general terms of this definition.' MCLA 257.62; MSA 9.1862 [Emphasis added]

Self-propelled lawn mowers and self-propelled snow blowers which can be driven are not designed for the transportation of persons or property. Whether they are being used to transport persons or property is a question of fact which, if established, would require registration.

It is my opinion, therefore, that neither a self-propelled lawn mower nor a self-propelled snow blower which can be driven need be registered as a vehicle when its movement on a highway is incidental to its use as a lawn mower or snow blower and therefore for purposes other than transportation of persons or property. The fact that such equipment may be driven for several blocks so that it may be used at its destination does not constitute use for the transportation of persons or property.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General