Is it Legal to Drive a Golf Cart on the Road?
Updated: Feb 23
Golf carts are commonly utilized for cruising golf courses or carrying golf clubs. But how about if they would like to take their golf cart off its golf course? Do you think it would be okay in a specific location?
Before deciding about putting your golf cart on the road, it is essential to explore and know first if golf carts are street legal in your state. Some states in America prohibit golf carts on public highways since these vehicles should only be driven on golf courses. Although some states in the U.S. allow drivers to drive a golf cart in public streets, there are still some other laws and regulations that they need to adhere to.
A low-speed vehicle indeed provides a convenient way to transport individuals from one place to another, depending on their locations. But driving a golf cart in a specific area is prohibited, especially if drivers don’t comply with its basic requirements. So, if you’re planning to use and legally drive a golf cart on public highways, knowing the state laws and some possible things associated with driving golf carts is a must.
In this article, you will be enlightened if it’s legal to drive a golf cart on public highways or not. Reading the subsequent discussions will also learn the different legalities, rules, and regulations about driving golf carts on the road.
Street Golf Cart — What Makes it Legal?
Golf carts are said to be legal in some states in America. But there’s still a need to adhere to the state’s laws, rules, and policies so that drivers will not be penalized. To make sure that they can comply with the legalities of golf cart driving, knowing the guidelines released by the NHSA or National Highway Safety Administration is necessary. Their vehicle cart is required to meet its qualifications before it is driven on public highways. Their golf carts must have these complete parts:
• Vehicle identification number, which usually comes in 17 digits
• Lighted bracket for the license plate
• Interior plus the exterior-mounted mirrors
• Minimum speed from 20 to 25 miles (40.23 km) per hour (40.23 km/h)
• Reflex reflectors at the corners of your golf cart
• Well-functional brake lights, taillights containing electric turn signals, and headlights
• Tires that are duly approved by DOT, seat belt, and safety glazed windshield wiper
It is also essential to note that these golf carts require a maximum posted speed limit. It is because this feature allows the drivers not to interfere with other automobile or golf cart traffic. Its minimum posted speed limits are only for the qualifications on the safety rules for the public highways. However, always keep in mind that local laws and regulations in every state vary from one another. Some of these states don’t utilize this term — golf cart. But instead, they utilize LSV golf carts or low-speed vehicles.
For the golf carts to become street legal on public highways, these must meet all the local, federal, and state requirements. Above all this, these vehicles can travel at least twenty miles per hour. But this golf cart should not exceed the maximum speed of 25 miles per hour (40.23 km/h) per hour (40.23 km/h) when traveling. In most states, there should be a minimum and maximum limit in terms of speed when traveling, and it typically measures using miles per hour.
Making Street Golf Carts Legal
There are some limited types of street legal golf carts in America. If people want to make their golf carts legal, then they can do some upgrades and modifications. Their current golf cart should follow the qualifications or prerequisites imposed by the state to operate golf carts in public legally.
Below are the things and procedures that drivers should do when making their street golf cart legal:
⎫ Verify the State and Local Laws
Check the policies and laws in locals and states before purchasing some sorts of accessories for the upgrades and modifications of your golf cart. Perhaps there’s a new law or an updated policy which talks about driving these golf carts.
⎫ Include proper lights and accessories
It is crucial to invest in the proper set of brake lights, taillights, and good headlights. These kits for the lights are necessary for making golf carts street legal. Aside from the appropriate lights, drivers need to invest in some accessories for their golf carts like horns and others. A horn allows them to make signals when there are other kinds of vehicles. They also need to learn that light kits are pricey compared to the kits in golf carts.
⎫ Include appropriate mirror sets
The rearview mirror and side mirrors are core components of the vehicles on the public highways- be it a low-speed or high-speed vehicle. These types of mirrors allow them to check other vehicles around while they are driving. These mirror sets come in various sizes and designs based on the specific types of golf carts.
⎫ Provide golf cart with a slow-moving automobile sign/low-speed vehicle mark
Some states require a special sign for a low-speed vehicle. The installation of this sign on the drivers’ golf cars provides maximum safety protection in public.
⎫ Install seat belts
It is crucial to install suitable seat belts at the back and front of the golf cart. A well-buckled seat belt can enhance overall safety while they are driving in case of an accident.
⎫ Install a protective windshield
Installing a shatter-resistant windshield will help the driver protect themselves against the rocks, dirt, debris, and dust on public highways. Thus, it allows them to keep focus and see properly while they are driving at high speed.
⎫ Put a speedometer in the golf cart
Regardless of the location or state where they are driving, the right and appropriate speed are always essential. Thus, a speedometer will help them check if they are at the correct rate on public highways. Because of this, they are using a speedometer in their vehicle to avoid golf cart accidents when cruising on public streets. A speedometer will also tell them how many miles per hour which they should travel.
⎫ Grab insurance from a well-trusted insurance company
Street legal golf carts are required to be insured since this is another requirement to meet the guidelines of federal law. Once a low-speed vehicle is not covered with insurance, then this vehicle will have an equivalent value in times of a golf cart accident. Individuals can get insurance for their golf carts from the insurance company, provide that street-legal status, and obtain the requirements. The insurance cover for their vehicle can also be used in various ways. If there is an accident when driving, then the insurance group will cover the expenses. Thus, their family in the retirement communities will not think of the costs anymore once worse come to worst.
So, if they want to make their golf cart street legal and drive at a decent speed, they need to do those mentioned above. Make sure to completely follow those suggestions because they will not help them navigate a street legal golf cart on public roads but can also help them protect themselves when cruising on the roads. These things are for compliance with the state golf cart laws and the driver’s protection and overall safety.
Moreover, for a safety reminder, always limit the passengers when driving the vehicle and make sure you the person is insured before driving someone else's vehicle. Although some golf carts can accommodate up to six people, depending on the size of these vehicles, it is still essential to limit the passengers to drive the vehicles safely. So, when there’s a checkpoint, you can avoid the fines or penalties for overloading.
Exploring the Rules and Regulations of the State about Driving Vehicle Carts on Public Highways
When planning to drive a golf cart on a public street, knowing the different rules and regulations of the state on driving these low-speed vehicles is the first thing that you must learn. Upon researching, they may also know that every state or location tends to replicate federal regulations on their statutes. However, some of them tend to eliminate others because of redundancy.
If they live in Iowa, they must know that laws in this state permit these low-speed vehicles to be driven or utilized on public highways. However, it is essential to place a slow-moving vehicle sign on the back where it’s visible to other drivers. There must also be a safety flag to ensure safety precautions when cruising on public roads. Aside from that, these vehicles must be driven and used during daylight hours.
In some other states, any driver can use an electric golf cart on a public road, which is similar to driving a lawn mower on the road. However, it is still required to legally drive this vehicle during the daytime with a specific maximum speed limit. In some states like South Carolina and Rhode Island, golf carts have limitations to cities and towns that had passed laws and policies for authorization. Moreover, a driver must bring a valid driver’s license. When driving on public roads for validation purposes, it is a must if the golf cart drivers are authorized to use the vehicle. It is proof that the driver is professional enough and knows the do’s and dont’s while driving on public roads.
In other locations and states like Pennsylvania, the law dictates that the driver must be of legal age and has a driver’s license. The majority of the states perform strict inspections and receive a sticker as an approval sign before hitting the street. Although their vehicle is private property, there’s still a need to comply with this requirement.
The Legalities in Driving Golf Carts on Public Roads
In general, driving street legal golf carts must conform with all federal and state legalities and policies. No one should drive or use this vehicle on a public road without complying with the minimum requirements. It is because drivers might be penalized under the rule of law. Insurance covering their life and their golf cart is also necessary to cover the expenses incurred if there is a golf cart accident. The government in one’s locality may strictly impose policies on these low-speed vehicles to ensure safety precautions at all times. Suppose people are not entirely aware of all the legalities of driving a golf cart on public roads. In that case, it is advisable to find a law firm that can vividly explain this matter.
An attorney-client relationship is essential since injury lawyers can help everyone learn and comprehend everything associated with driving a golf cart. Accident lawyers will also discuss the federal requirements and other public safety measures anchored with lawful acts with their clients. They may ask for a free consultation regarding their concern from the public attorney’s office. They offer a free consultation since not all people can afford to pay the lawyer’s fee.
At some point, they also need to know of specific parking lots where they need to park their vehicle. This is to avoid illegal parking fines or penalties in the future. It is also necessary to learn toll-free for emergency purposes. If there’s ever a problem, they can contact an expert. Perhaps, their lawyer is always there to assist them in terms of all legalities in driving. To a certain extent, they must be knowledgeable on what to do when driving on public highways. This will assure the driver that they will always be safe and free from possible legal troubles related to driving.
Purchasing a Legal Street Golf Cart
Before purchasing a specific type of vehicle on public roads, it would be an excellent idea to ensure that the state or local government allows it. This would be helpful, especially if they live in areas suitable, strictly patrolled by the state police.
Then, they may notice that although the local government in their place allows golf cart usage, the state government in their location does not permit its use. If this was the case, then the rules of the state will apply. Suppose they drive a cart vehicle. The police officers were caught violating the state and local government policy. In that case, they might get into legal consequences and troubles.
If they already determined that vehicle carts are utilized on public roads, then make sure to purchase a vehicle that meets both federal and state requirements. In most instances, those vehicles which meet the federal requirements can meet all the mechanical needs and state qualifications. However, this is not the usual case, especially if the drivers opt for a gas vehicle cart. At the same time, some localities and states allow them to utilize an electric one. So, if this is the case, it would be better to select an electric type of golf cart in public than those with gas cart vehicles.
After that, they may check some information in their local government or state to know what specific type of license plate and signs they must display on their carts. There’s no need to show a lit-up license plate or a character in some states and locations. But in other states, they probably need license plates and triangular reflective signs, which should be displayed on the back of the cart.
Take note that acquiring a vehicle cart sign will not be too hard but acquiring a special license plate for a motor vehicle is quite challenging. It is because individuals need to undergo strict inspection for their golf carts. They also need to transact with their trusted company to cover the insurance of their vehicle. Aside from that, there’s a need to pay the registration fees for their golf carts.
From what you have learned from the discussions, every state varies in its policies and rules on driving this type of vehicle on local roads. Thus, there’s a need to follow the regulations and imposed federal regulations or policies. So, as a rule of thumb, always check the local government’s golf cart rules and laws before taking a golf cart out on a public road. If the state does not allow driving golf carts on public roads, then this punishment is not that severe. However, drivers may end up having expensive fines or penalties. In some instances, they may be imprisoned just because they drive golf carts on a public highway.