In a world of high fuel prices, more and more people are turning toward electric alternatives when it comes to driving. While full-electric vehicles tend to be expensive, golf carts are a common mode of transportation on and off the golf course. However, many people wonder do you need a license to drive a golf cart.
Whilst you needed to have some form of license in the past to drive a golf cart on public roads, these rules are slowly changing. The license requirements for most states would vary, and the golf cart’s legality also plays a role. In this article, we will explore whether you require a license to operate a golf cart in the US.
While many people would simply take the risk and hop onto the golf cart for a small trip, there seems to be plenty of confusion regarding golf carts’ licensing system.
It is also important to know who can drive a golf cart and who might not be allowed to drive a golf cart on the open road. Essentially, it comes down to which state and jurisdiction you live in.
You might also enjoy reading: 15 Best Golf Cart Accessories For Your Golf Cart.
Do You Need Any Form Of License To Operate Golf Cart On A Golf Course?
For the most part, you can legally operate a golf cart on most golf courses in the USA without having a driver’s license. The driver’s license is designed to be used on public roads, and a golf course often falls under the jurisdiction of private property. Unfortunately, this does not give you free rein when it comes to riding your cart.
Furthermore, golf carts are primarily designed to be operated on golf courses, and this means that you will find most golf carts currently used in the US somewhere on a golf course.
It will often boil down back to the state and the jurisdiction you play in to determine whether a license is applicable for those operating a golf cart.
Since a golf course is private property, the golf course owner has the right of admission, allowing them to decide who is allowed on the course. The owners could decide whether you need a license to operate or rent a golf cart. However, most owners would rather add a minimum age requirement to renting or operating a golf cart.
Having played at a few golf courses where there is an age restriction on golf carts, it is typically the same as the legal driving age of the country or state.
One of the main reasons for this involves insurance, and when you rent a golf cart, you often need to be insured by the golf course owners in the case of serious injury or damage to the cart.
When it comes to insurance payment, most golf courses have found that the insurance premium is far more expensive for younger adults, which is why the limit is bumped up to the same age as having a driver’s license.
There are a few exceptions, with some golf courses allowing children around the age of 12 or even 13 to operate golf carts.
Generally, this should be done under the watchful eye of an adult guardian, who would assume full responsibility. It is not preferred for younger children to ride golf carts due to the risk and insurance premiums.
Do You Need A License To Drive A Golf Cart Off The Golf Course?
If you want to drive your golf cart off the golf course, it becomes a different kettle of fish. To understand this, you will need to look at some of the state laws that we have covered in a different article. Each state has its legal requirements, and certain states, like Alabama, outright ban the use of golf carts on public roads.
For the majority of states, driving your golf cart on public roads will be permitted. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
If you want to drive your cart safely without any intervention from the local traffic police, these are a few important factors to keep in mind:
While the legal age for driving in the US is 16, many states believe that this age is still too reckless for younger drivers to be responsible. In certain states like Alabama, you will need to be at least 18 years or older to operate a golf cart on the golf course, aside from being banned on public roads.
In certain states, you only need to be 16 to drive your golf cart, but driving it on public roads would often require some form of a license.
You could use a learner’s permit if you do not currently own a license. However, you might be required to have adult supervision to ensure you follow the rules of the road.
While you might be permitted to use your golf cart on public roads, one requirement many states like Arizona have put in place is that the golf cart should be optimized for the road. This means that your golf cart should be able to do what most cars can do.
Here are some of the most basic requirements for making your golf cart roadworthy:
- Turn Signals: You must have basic turn signals that allow other cars following you to see if you want to turn. This is something you will need to install to be able to drive your cart on public roads.
- Brake Lights: If a car is following you from behind, you must have brake lights. This would prevent the concertina effect of cars crashing into one another simply because one of them has stopped suddenly.
- Minimum Speed Requirements: While not all states have a minimum speed requirement, some states, like Connecticut, have a minimum speed limit of 40 MPH. To avoid frustrating and holding up the traffic, you should be able to meet this requirement.
- Registering The Vehicle: You might be thinking that you are free to use your golf cart whenever you have all these amendments made. However, the vehicle needs to be registered under the county or jurisdiction. This means you will need to have a license plate.
These are only four major things to keep in mind when driving your golf cart on the public road. The rules and regulations would significantly differ depending on where you are and what jurisdiction you live in.
Ideally, the aim is to ensure that you do not pose any risk to other road users when driving your golf cart on the road.
If you might also be wondering: Why Are Golf Carts So expensive? (find out why now!)
Where Can You Drive Your Golf Cart Without A License?
Ideally, you want to abide by the rules of the road and your state. If you are driving your golf cart on private property, the prerogative of setting the minimum age and requirements would fall squarely on that of the owners.
The owners will need to bear the responsibility for the costs of insurance and damages. We have identified a few places where you can drive your golf cart without any issues:
The one place that would enable you to drive your cart without any intervention will be on private property.
Private property can be in the form of your own home or golf estate. However, the moment you cross the boundaries into a public street, you will need to abide by the laws of the state and ensure your vehicle complies.
Golf courses will also tie in with private property, and you should be able to drive your golf cart on these courses. If you are legally allowed to rent a golf cart, you will also be fine to ride on the golf course. However, you should respect the golf course and rule of law and ensure that you do not damage the golf course or the cart.
States The Permit Golf Carts
Generally, golf carts are not legally allowed on public roads in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, and Rhode Island. In New York, you can get arrested for operating a golf cart on public streets, sidewalks, or parking lots.
All other states allow golf carts on public roads, but golf carts usage restrictions vary depending on the State you reside in.
As a golf cart owner, it is important that you look at these states and see if your golf cart is permissible on the open road. Remember that driving the cart on public roads will require you to set the cart up for public roads.
How Old Should You Be To Drive a Golf Cart In Florida?
Golf carts can be legally driven on the roads in Florida, and you are not required to have a driver’s license; but to operate a golf cart on designated public roadways, a person must be at least 14 years old (Source: Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles)
In other words, golf carts may be used on roadways designated for golf carts with a posted maximum speed limit of 30 mph.
Are Golf Carts Street Legal In Virginia?
Golf carts can be legally driven on the street or highway in Virginia. According to Virginia Law, Golf carts shall be operated on public highways only between sunrise and sunset unless equipped with required lights as the law instructs.
So, do you need a driver’s license to drive a golf cart in Virginia? All persons driving a golf cart or utility vehicle on any public highway shall have a valid driver’s license. All golf carts or utility automobiles operated on a public road or highway shall show a slow-moving vehicle emblem per the Code of Virginia.
Are Golf Carts Street Legal In Tennessee?
Golf carts are not street legal in Tennessee unless adjusted to meet all the low or medium speed vehicle requirements in Tennessee law and the federal safety standards, according to the Government of Tennessee.
Even though low speed vehicles are allowed to be titled and registered in Tennessee for use on roads with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour ( or 35 mph) or less. However, golf carts are not allowed unless they are designed and manufactured for on road use or have been adjusted to meet all of the requirements and safety standards.
See also: How Long Is a Golf Cart? (With examples)
Are Golf Carts Allowed on Ontario Roads?
Golf carts are not allowed on Ontario roads. According to Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, low-speed vehicles may be operated on roads with a speed limit of up to 50 kilometers per hour. Generally, low-speed vehicles are four-wheeled, smaller, and lighter than regular cars, with a maximum speed of 40 kilometers per hour. However, golf carts generally don’t meet the requirements for low-speed vehicles (Source: Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation)
Owning a driving a golf cart can be plenty of fun. Many might turn to it as a cheaper electrical alternative with skyrocketing fuel prices.
While this is permissible in certain states, you will need to ensure that your state allows it. We would love to read your comments and find out in what state you live and whether you can drive your golf cart on the public road.
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