What makes a golf cart street legal? If you have driven through a retirement community lately, chances are you have shared the roads with golf carts. A vehicle once limited to golf cart paths is now increasingly being used for general transportation needs. Before we dive into what makes a golf cart street legal, let’s first discuss why street legal golf carts are becoming so popular across the country.
Golf Carts vs Cars
Golf cart usage on the open roads has increased exponentially in the last 20 years and for good reason. Some of the benefits of using a golf cart for your commute instead of a car are:
- More efficient: Due to their smaller size, golf carts are much for fuel efficient than a car. If you choose to go the electric golf cart route, this efficiency is even more evident. Charging your phone and an electric golf cart isn’t much different.
- Better for the environment: Looking to reduce your carbon emissions? An electric golf cart will allow you to eliminate them all together!
- More affordable: The average brand new electric golf cart sells for around $6,000. A brand new car will cost you 300% more on the low end.
- Less maintenance: Improvement in technologies like lithium ion batteries have made golf carts nearly maintenance free. While there is still maintenance that must be performed, you can rest assured knowing you won’t have to routinely pay for repairs like you do with traditional, gas-powered cars.
- Fun: Let’s be honest, cruising around in a silent, electric golf cart is a lot of fun. The rise of street legal golf carts has a lot to do with this.
- Versatility: There are a lot of places that allow golf carts, but not cars. In fact, there are entire communities that have outlawed cars altogether. A major selling point of street legal golf carts is their versatility, transporting their owners on the golf course, in the neighborhood and everywhere in between.
Street Legal Golf Cart Laws
A street legal golf cart implies that laws are in place to determine what “legal” actually means. Currently, the law is playing catch up in many areas. It is important to keep in mind that laws vary from state-to-state, with some states not having clear laws in place at all. Florida, the mecca for street legal golf carts, describes a street legal golf cart as the following:
“any four-wheeled electric vehicles whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour but not greater than 25 miles per hour.” This includes Low Speed Vehicles such as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV). Golf cars that are not considered low speed vehicles are prohibited from operation on roads with a few exceptions detailed in s. 316.212. As with motor vehicles, low speed vehicles are subject to a license tax, which is the same as that prescribed in Florida Statute s. 320.08- for non-electrically powered vehicles.”
Confused? You aren’t alone. The laws surrounding street legal golf carts are still in their infancy and change on a regular basis. One law that seems to be a consensus is the ability to drive on roads with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less.
While we recommend you look into the specific golf cart laws in your state, we went ahead and put together a list of physical requirements that comply with most state laws. Use this as a checklist that must be met before you even consider your golf cart street legal.
What Makes A Golf Cart Street Legal?
- Headlights: Headlights are rarely necessary on the course, but you will need to make sure you have them before you hit the road.
- Tail Lights/Brake lights: Sharing the road with cars can be extremely dangerous if you don’t have tail lights and brake lights. Avoid an accident by installing these and regularly checking to ensure they are working properly.
- Turn Signals
- Reflex Reflectors
- Speedometer: Golf carts must adhere to speed limits just like the cars they share the road with. The problem? Many golf carts are lacking a speedometer.
- Parking Brakes
- Rear View Mirrors: Seeing what is behind you on a golf course isn’t top of mind, but on the road it is imperative you see not only what is in front of you, but also behind you.
- Seat Belts: This should be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people try to hit the roads without seat belts installed. Please take this seriously. It can save your life and at the very least prevent a costly ticket.
- Vehicle Identification Numbers
Choosing the Right Street Legal Golf Cart
Finding the right street legal golf cart can be difficult. There are so many different variables to consider. Do you want a gas or electric golf cart? Do you want to buy new or used?
At Icon EV we regularly hear these questions and love to help. If you need help choosing the right street legal golf cart, contact us for help!