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Is It Legal To Drive A Golf Cart On The Road? No. But there is a way..
Golf carts are a way of life in retirement communities across the country. They are efficient, cheaper to buy and maintain than regular cars, and fun to drive, according to seniors.
Many rely heavily on golf carts to commute between doctor’s appointments, dance classes, and restaurants, as well as shopping centers.
But they are actually not legal to be driven on a public road in some states unless they meet certain requirements.
Are Golf Carts Legal To Drive On The Road?
It depends on where you live. While street legal golf carts are permitted to operate on public roads in some areas in the United States, there are also many states that don’t allow them on public roads at all.
If you are caught driving a golf cart on an interstate or highway, you could be ticketed for reckless driving and driving in an unsafe manner. You may also incur a fine for violating the posted signs prohibiting motor vehicle traffic on the freeway or expressway.
Traditional golf carts can’t be driven on roads unless they’re modified to meet low-speed and medium-speed vehicle requirements.
Since golf carts are powered by an electric motor and are four-wheeled, they would be classified as low-speed vehicles since they have top speeds of more than 20 mph but less than 25 mph.
Golf carts that meet these requirements have to be titled, registered, and insured like a regular vehicle.
Driving your cart on public roads is fine as long as you are traveling at low-speed speeds. With these modifications, your golf cart can go the same speed as mopeds but still have the convenience of a golf cart.
However, golf carts are not allowed on freeways or highways where the speed limit exceeds 40 mph. If you are caught driving on freeways, you could be ticketed for reckless driving and driving in an unsafe manner.
You may also incur a fine for violating the posted signs that prohibit motor vehicle traffic on the freeway or expressway.
What Is A Low-Speed Vehicle?
A low-speed vehicle is any self-propelled vehicle that has a maximum speed of more than 20 mph but less than 25 mph. The key to being classified as a low-speed vehicle is the motor and power.
Low-speed vehicles are driven by electric motors, which produce two gross brake horsepower or less. Gross brake horsepower refers to the amount of power produced before any transmission losses occur, including power lost while driving through gears.
Low-power motorcycles and scooters use this type of motor for their drive system.
What Are The Advantages Of Owning A Golf Cart?
They’re safer than regular cars.
- No insurance is required because golf carts are not classified as motor vehicles by state law.
- Gas-powered carts are very inexpensive to operate, and electric carts range from moderately priced to extremely cheap to run.
- People in retirement communities find golf carts good for getting around.
What Are The Requirements For A Golf Cart To Be Street Legal?
State laws vary, but some state statutes typically require golf carts to be titled and registered in accordance with state law like regular vehicles.
- Must be able to travel at a speed of at least 20 miles per hour.
- A lighted license plate
- A VIN number
- A horn
- A speedometer
- DOT-approved tires, seat belts, and windshield wipers
- Working headlights, brake lights, and turn signal lights
- Interior and exterior-mounted mirrors
What are the laws on each state regarding the use of Golf Carts?
State Laws Regarding Street Legal Golf Carts:
Alabama specifically states that golf carts are not vehicles and cannot be legally used on public roads.Of course, some localities have made exceptions to the rule so that golf carts can be allowed in golf cart communities.
Electric golf carts can be operated on roads with speed limits under 35 miles per hour.
Golf carts are legal on highways with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less, as long as the driver has a driver’s license.
Golf carts may be used on municipal roads if the municipality permits it, but not if they are also designated as federal, state, or county roads. A license is not necessary.
The carts must not weigh more than 1,300 pounds and it should not carry more than two people, including the driver. The cart must have a safety-glazed windshield as well as fenders.
Golf carts may only operate on roads with speed limits under 35 miles per hour. They will need to have a triangular slow-moving vehicle sign on the back of them.
Towns can allow golf carts on local streets. These golf carts can only be driven on roads with speed limits of 25 miles per hour or less. They cannot be driven at night and the driver must have a driver’s license.
Golf carts are not street legal and can only be driven on private property.
A golf cart can be driven on public roads at a speed of 20 miles per hour with speed limits under 25 miles per hour as long as the driver is at least 14 years old.
If the golf cart is driven at a speed over 20 miles per hour, the driver will need to have a special license and the cart will need to be registered with the DMV.
The cart will also need insurance at this point as well. State law says that golf carts can only be operated from sunrise to sunset, but some communities allow it anyway.
Golf carts can only be driven on roads with posted speed limits under 35 miles per hour. The driver must have a driver’s license or must be accompanied by a legal adult with a driver’s license.
Golf carts in Hawaii cannot be issued a 17 character VIN. This means that they cannot meet the federal demands for making a golf cart street legal.
The vehicle must have a valid restricted vehicle license plate and it must be insured. The horn must be audible at 200 feet. The mirror must show the roadway 200 feet behind the golf cart.
If a municipality specifically allows it, golf carts can be driven on roadways that are deemed safe and have speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less.
Golf carts are limited to cities and towns that have passed local laws to allow for them to be driven on the road. All drivers must have a valid driver’s license.
Golf carts can be driven on roads if the town permits it. However, the vehicle must display a slow-moving vehicle sign and a safety flag on it. Also, it can only be operated from sunrise to sunset.
State law permits municipalities to allow drivers of golf carts to take to the streets during daylight hours if the vehicles don’t exceed 30 miles per hour.
Driving requires a permit from local government, a sticker saying that the cart has been approved for use on local streets and an inspection by the sheriff.
The carts can only travel on streets with a posted limit of 35 mph and only during daylight hours. Golf carts must have a slow-moving vehicle emblem attached. The driver must have a license and insurance.
Local towns may designate some roads to be used by golf carts. These roads must be marked and all drivers must have a slow-moving vehicle sign on the back of the golf cart.
Additionally, golf cart drivers must be licensed to operate a motor vehicle.
Golf carts are legal for use in low-speed areas around golf courses and on islands that are habitable.
Golf carts are not street legal and can only be driven on private property.
The golf cart must be registered, titled, insured, and inspected. The driver must be licensed and the golf cart must have plates.
The driver must be at least 16 years old and must have a driver’s license. Golf carts cannot be driven within 30 minutes of sunset and sunrise.
The state of Minnesota allows for the local government to permit or not permit golf cart use on public roadways and highways under their jurisdiction. If they do allow golf cart use on public roadways and highways, then a special permit and insurance are required.
Golf carts are allowed on city streets if the city permits it. Additionally, they are only allowed to be operated on city streets 30 minutes after sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset at no more than 20 mph.
At a minimum, golf carts shall be equipped with efficient brakes, reliable steering apparatus, safe tires, a rear-view mirror, red reflectorized warning devices on the rear and white reflectorized warning device on the front of the vehicle.
Golf carts are not permitted on city streets.
A person may not operate a golf cart on the street unless the city specifically allows for it. Also, any driver that does operate a golf cart on public roads will need to have a valid driver’s license.
A golf cart may not operate at speeds above 20 miles an hour. Also, they may not operate on roads with speed limits in excess of 35 miles per hour.
According to the state:
“Golf Carts may not be operated on a state or federal highway, but is allowed to CROSS a highway that intersects with a street.”
A Nevada golf cart permit is required in counties where the population is 700,000 or more.
Golf carts must be registered and insured. They cannot be operated before sunrise or after sunset. Drivers must be licensed.
Some local roads permit the use of golf carts on them. However, posted speed limits on roads must be 25 MPH or below to drive your cart, must be a battery-powered cart and you must have a valid driver’s license.
If children are in the golf cart, safety restraint laws are the same as they would be for passenger vehicles.
Golf carts may be permitted for use on local roads but not state or federal.
The DMV explicitly states that you may be arrested if you operate a golf cart on public roads, sidewalks, or even parking lots.
The state of North Carolina has specifically laid out its rules for street legal golf carts.
Here is what they had to say:
Golf carts cannot be operated on roads with speed limits greater than 35 miles per hour.
All drivers must be licensed and over the age of 16. Drivers may not be under the influence of alcohol.
Here is what the state of North Dakota has to say:
“The governing body of a city may allow by an ordinance the operation of golf carts on the city streets.”
“The ordinance may not allow a golf cart on federal, state, or county highways in the city, except for the perpendicular crossing of these highways.”
Basically, towns have the option to allow or not allow the use of golf carts on their streets as they see fit.
Local governments do have the authority to allow people to operate golf carts on low-speed roads not owned by the state or federal government.
However, all drivers will need to be licensed to operate a motor vehicle.
Here is what the state of Oklahoma has to say regarding golf cart usage on state roads.
“The use of golf carts on public streets and highways is allowed within state parks as well as municipalities that have approved ordinances for their use.”
These roads will always have speed limits under 25 miles per hour and they’ll have signs posted saying that there is golf cart traffic. If you don’t see these signs, you’re better off not driving your golf cart on the road.
Golf carts can be permitted by the city or county government for areas within close proximity to a golf course.
Golf carts can be driven up to one mile on low-speed public roads. You must be at least 12 years old to drive a golf cart.
It is illegal to drive a golf cart on city streets in Rhode Island.
A golf cart can be driven on streets with a 35 mile per hour or less speed limit during daylight hours.
You can cross a highway or street at an intersection even if the highway or street being crossed has a speed limit of greater than 35 mph.
The driver and vehicle must be licensed and the vehicle must be insured. Golf carts can be driven after dusk but you need to have lights installed on the golf cart in order to do so.
Golf carts can be driven on low-speed roads but the golf cart must be registered as a low-speed vehicle first. The golf cart will also need to be registered and titled.
Golf carts can be driven on local roads when permitted by the local or county government.
Golf carts can be driven on roads as a low-speed vehicle, but they will need to have a VIN and a title. They will also need to be registered.
Electric golf carts designated as low-speed vehicles may be driven on roads that have posted speed limits lower than 35 miles per hour.
Here is what the Virginia statute has to say about operating golf carts on public roads.
Golf carts can only be driven on roads with speed limits less than 25 miles per hour.
Also, they must have a license and they cannot drive between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
Local towns can create golf cart zones on roads that do not exceed 25 miles per hour. These zones need to be properly marked with signs.
Drivers must be licensed.
Golf carts can be driven on local roads if they qualify as low-speed vehicles and the city allows for it.
Golf carts are not allowed on public roads unless they qualify as an LSV.
Golf carts can be driven on local roads as long as they meet safety requirements and have a VIN. They will also need to be registered and they’ll need a license plate and insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you need a license to drive a golf cart on public roads?
In the majority of states, no. Golf carts are typically classified as low-speed vehicles, which do not require drivers to have a license to operate it.
However, in some states, such as Texas and Colorado, you do need to be licensed in order to drive on public roads. It is prudent to check with your respective state’s DMV for more information before operating a golf cart on public roads.
If you want to learn about the rules and regulations of using your golf cart on the golf course. Read this article
2. Can you drive a golf cart on freeways or highways?
Some states allow you to, but it depends if the golf cart has been registered as a low-speed vehicle. It probably is illegal to drive on the freeway. You’ll be charged with reckless driving and going in an unsafe manner.
If you do this and are caught, there is also a possibility of getting a ticket for driving on the highway illegally. Depending on who catches you, there could be an additional fine of around $200-$300 for violating traffic laws and exceeding speed limits.
3. Do you need to wear a seat belt in a golf cart?
No, you do not. Less than 20 states nationwide require seat belts or safety belts in motor vehicles. While there is no federal law that requires them on street-legal golf carts, most carts have the slots or hooks for them to be installed if they are needed.
However, the child safety seats used in automobiles are not required or recommended for golf carts because of their high center of gravity. They have been known to tip over easily while driving and can cause serious injuries.
4. Do you need headlights on a golf cart at night?
Yes, rules are enforced by state or local traffic departments. The law in most states is that you must have headlights on when you are driving a golf cart during the day or evening hours.
Make sure you check with your state’s DMV for more details about these laws.
5. Do I need an ID card to drive a golf cart?
That depends on where you live. While identification cards are not mandatory in many areas, they are needed in some places for various reasons.
In some cases, it is needed information for insurance purposes and to show it is a street-legal legal cart.
If you live in one of the states that require an ID card to be carried while driving, make sure you check with your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).
6. What do I do if I have an accident in a golf cart?
When operating a golf cart, just like operating a vehicle, you should never drink alcohol or be on the road after using any form of the drug. Following these basic laws will also help protect you better than not following them.
If there’s an accident, get as much information as possible from witnesses and keep it in writing for insurance purposes.
Someone should be able to tell you the name of your insurance company and your policy number. If the police are called, take down their names and badge numbers too.
7. Do golf carts need a license plate?
In many states, a permanent license plate is not required on the back of golf carts. However, in other states, a temporary license plate is needed to show that it is street-legal.
It can usually be easily removable, so when you’re driving on private property, it can be removed or covered up by a piece of cardboard or tape. Make sure you check with local authorities in your area about this law before driving on public roads if there’s any confusion about the rules and regulations for using them.
8. Are there any laws regarding headlights and taillights on a golf cart?
There are no laws requiring any type of lighting on a golf cart, but most manufacturers do include a headlight and taillight.
It’s best practice to use them at night or in the dark to be better seen on the road for both yourself and other drivers. Headlights and taillights can also be used during the day when needed for safety reasons.
9. What are some of the rules involving parking?
The rules depend on where you’re going to park. If you’re on private property, you’ll need to follow the rules set forth by the property owner or manager.
If you plan on parking on a public street, make sure to avoid parking in front of a fire hydrant, which is illegal in most areas. Too many golf carts are impounded by police because of this reason.
And if you’re driving around in your golf cart and plan on driving it home at night, park it in a safe place when the sun goes down so that thieves can’t see it and try to break into your vehicle.