Driving golf carts on public roads has become more common in recent years. More and more local municipalities have begun to recognize these carts as low-speed vehicles.
In fact, every US state except for Rhode Island, Maryland, Missouri, Delaware, and Hawaii allows golf carts to traverse public thoroughfares.
A lot of jurisdictions allow you to obtain a vehicle identification number and register your cart with the local Department of Motor Vehicles.
With the help of having tags, titles, and insurance, the idea of street-legal golf carts has become more accepted. Because every jurisdiction has different rules and regulations, it is important to reach out to your local sheriff’s department to find out more information.
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What States Can You Drive Your Golf Cart on The Street?
There are only five states that explicitly prohibit the operation of golf carts on public roads. These states are Hawaii, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and Rhode Island.
The only reason that Hawaii does not allow golf carts to be driven on public roads is that they cannot be issued a 17-character vehicle identification number.
The other four states have specifically passed laws against their use. The rest of the country provides certain restrictions and requirements, but nevertheless, allows you to drive on low-speed roads with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less.
Where Can You Drive Your Golf Cart?
In many states, the regulation of golf cart operation on public roads is handled by local municipalities. As a result, the rules vary from town to town, and state to state.
However, there is a common understanding that a low-speed vehicle may only travel down a public road that has a posted speed of less than 35 mph. It is not lawful in any part of the country to drive a golf cart on any state or federal highway.
While there are some jurisdictions that provide special pathways exclusively for golf carts, most areas do not. Therefore, when driving on any public road it is important to make sure that your card has a triangular-shaped low-speed warning sign securely fastened to the back of the cart.
What Is the Speed Limit for Golf Carts on The Street?
The rules and regulations vary from state to state, but there is a general consensus between all states that allow golf carts to be driven on public roads.
That is, a cart must be able to travel at a minimum speed of not less than 20 mph. In fact, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has specifically provided safety guidelines that apply to golf carts and other similar four-wheeled vehicles.
Under these guidelines, four-wheeled vehicles that weigh less than 3000 pounds and have a top speed of no more than 25 to 30 mph are known as low-speed vehicles (LSVs).
US states that specifically recognize and regulate LSVs include California, Indiana, Louisiana, Kansas, Maryland, Maine, New York, Missouri, Rhode Island, Oregon, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Utah.
What Does It Take to Make Your Golf Cart Street Legal?
Each state’s regulations vary, and although some states do not require any form of requirement or inspection prior to the operation of a golf cart on public roads, other states have strict requirements.
As a general rule, golf carts are not allowed to operate at nighttime. Notwithstanding, it is important that every unit has a working set of headlights, brake lights, and turn signals.
Many jurisdictions also require a speedometer, a working horn, as well as a rearview mirror. California in particular requires that all golf carts use safety glass on their front windshield.
Other things may be required from location to location, so it is important to reach out to your local municipality to determine the exact requirements.
What’s the Process Like in Getting Your Golf Cart Street Legal?
Interestingly enough, most jurisdictions do not have any major requirements for making ace golf cart Street legal. You can put warning stickers, emblems, or reflectors to warn other vehicles on the road that you are a slow-moving vehicle.
Several states require the local sheriff’s department to inspect the cart prior to its operation on public roads, with at least one state requiring drivers to obtain specific permits for their vehicle.
A handful of states also regulate the operation of golf carts through the Department of Motor Vehicles and therefore will require tags, title, and insurance on any vehicle.
It is important to verify the exact requirements in your local area to determine what will be necessary to make your golf cart street legal.
Golf Cart Laws by State
Each state in the union has its own rules and regulations with regard to the operation of golf carts on public roads. The following is a summary of golf cart laws by state.
Alabama – Under state law, a golf cart is not considered a vehicle, and therefore is not allowed to be driven on public roads. Notwithstanding, many local communities provide exemptions that allow golf carts to be driven within designated communities.
Alaska – State law provides that any golf cart that is powered by an electric motor may be driven on public roads provided its speed does not exceed 35 mph.
Arizona – Due to the number of retirement communities within the state, golf carts are allowed to be driven on public roads provided that they do not exceed 35 mph, and the driver carries a valid driver’s license.
Arkansas – Although a license is not necessary for driving golf carts in the state, they may only be driven on municipal roads, only when the municipality allows it to do so. At no time may golf carts be driven on any roads that are designated as state, county, or federal.
California – State law provides a weight limit of no more than 1300 pounds, as well as a capacity of no more than two people, the driver, and one passenger. All carts must have fenders and safety glazing on the windshield.
Colorado – Under state law, golf carts can only be driven on roads that have speed limits of less than 35 mph, provided that the cart has a triangular sign on the back indicating that it is a slow-moving vehicle.
Connecticut – The driving of golf carts is regulated at the town level, and it is the local municipality that may or may not allow them to be driven on local streets, provided that the driver has a valid license, and the vehicle is not driven faster than 25 mph or after sundown.
Delaware – Golf carts are prohibited from being driven on any public road or property and are not considered to be street legal.
Florida – The driving of golf carts on public roads is strictly regulated by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Under state law, any cart that will be driven between 20 and 25 mph, must be registered with the department and have a plate as well as insurance. Unregistered vehicles cannot exceed the 20-mile-per-hour speed limit. Regardless of the registration status, state law expressly prohibits the operation of a golf cart at nighttime.
Georgia – Provided that it is driven at speeds of no more than 35 mph, golf carts within the state may be driven on public roads. Accordingly, the driver must have a valid license or be accompanied by an adult who is licensed.
Hawaii – Under state law, since a 17-character vehicle identification number cannot be issued to a golf cart, they, therefore, cannot be driven legally on public roads.
Idaho – Under state law, all golf carts that are to be driven on public roads must be licensed and insured, as well as future a functioning horn that can be heard at least 200 feet in any direction, and must also utilize a rearview mirror that allows the driver to see at least 200 feet behind the cart.
Illinois – Carts may only be driven on public roads with a posted speed limit of no more than 35 mph provided that the municipality allows it.
Indiana – You may only drive in cities or towns that have passed specific laws that allow golf carts to be driven on public roads. The driver of the cart must have a valid driver’s license.
Iowa – Provided that a slow-moving vehicle sign has been securely fastened to the back of the card, they may be driven on public roads in certain towns and municipalities between sunrise and sunset. It is also required that any cart on public roads must also use a safety flag.
Kansas – Golf carts may be driven in any municipality or town in the state that has passed an ordinance approving it, provided that the driver does not exceed 30 mph on any road and drives only during the day.
Kentucky - According to state law, any golf cart must be inspected by the local sheriff and approved for use on public roads. After passing an inspection, the owner of the car must obtain a sticker from the local government which specifically states that the vehicle is permitted to drive on public roads. The cart must be insured and have a slow-moving vehicle triangle securely fastened to the back. Drivers must have a valid license and are not allowed to exceed 35 mph, nor drive after the sun has set.
Louisiana – Provided that a local municipality or town has designated roads within its jurisdiction to be used by golf carts, said roads must be duly marked and all operators must have a valid license. Carts are also required to use a slow-moving vehicle triangle that is visible to the vehicles behind it.
Maine – Under state law carts may only be used in the designated low-speed areas in, and around golf courses as well as on several habitable islands.
Maryland – The driving of golf carts within the state is strictly prohibited, and at no point in time may they be driven on public roads or property.
Massachusetts – All carts must have tax title and insurance before being able to be driven on public roads. Likewise, any driver must have a valid driver’s license.
Michigan – Provided that the driver is at least 16 years old and holds a valid driver’s license, golf carts may be operated on public roads during the daytime. State law also prohibits the operation of carts within 30 minutes of sunrise or sunset.
Minnesota – Under state law, local governments are allowed to make their own ordinances and rules regarding the use of golf carts on public roads. Provided that the local municipality allows them to be driven on public roads, all drivers must have a specialized permit as well as proper insurance.
Mississippi – Golf carts may only be used on city streets if the city itself permits it. State law prohibits drivers from exceeding 20 mph on any roadway and requires that all units have functioning breaks, reliable steering, good tires, and a rearview mirror. Operation of a golf cart within the state may only be done during the daytime, but not within 30 minutes of sunrise or sunset, provided that the vehicle also displays a red reflector on the rear and a white reflector on the front.
Missouri – State law expressly prohibits the use of golf carts on public roads or property.
Montana – Under state law, any driver of a golf cart on public roads must hold a valid driver’s license, provided that the local municipality expressly allows the operation of slow-moving vehicles on public roads.
Nebraska – Golf carts may be driven on local roads provided that the posted speed limit of the road does not exceed 35 mph. At no point in time may the driver exceed 20 mph, nor are they allowed to operate on any state or federal thoroughfare. Drivers may cross state or federal highways provided that there is an intersection between the highway and a road with a posted speed limit of not more than 35 mph.
Nevada – Under state law any county with a population of 700,000 or more people requires the owner of a golf cart to obtain a permit. No permit is required for counties with smaller populations.
New Hampshire – All carts must be registered and fully insured and the driver must have a valid driver’s license. At no point in time may they be operated at nighttime.
New Jersey – State law requires any cart driven on public roads must be battery-powered and drivers must hold a valid driver’s license, provided that the vehicle is only driven on roads with a posted speed limit of 25 mph or less. Children may only ride as passengers in the cart provided that they have proper safety restraints installed.
New Mexico – Carts may operate on local public roads, but may not be driven on any state, county, or federal thoroughfare.
New York – This state has the strictest laws when it comes to the operation of golf carts on public roads, in parking lots, as well as on sidewalks or public property. You may be arrested for operating a cart on public roads and property.
North Carolina – Under state law, you must be at least 16 and have a valid driver’s license to operate a golf cart on public roads, provided that the posted speed limit does not exceed 35 mph.
North Dakota – State law provides that local municipalities may allow the operation of golf carts on city streets provided that an ordinance has been passed expressly allowing it. At no point in time may the vehicles be driven on any state county or federal highway unless it is crossing at an intersection.
Ohio – Provided that the road is not a state or federal thoroughfare, local municipalities may pass ordinances that allow the operation of golf carts on low-speed roads. Any driver must have a valid driver’s license to operate the cart on public property.
Oklahoma – State law allows the operation of golf carts on public roads provided that it is allowed by the local municipality. The vehicles may also be operated on state roads provided they are located within state parks. At no time shall a driver operate on a road that has a posted speed limit in excess of 25 mph.
Oregon – State law allows for the operation of golf carts in and around golf courses provided that the operator has obtained the appropriate permits from the local municipality.
Pennsylvania – Provided that the driver is at least 12 years of age, a golf cart may be driven on public roads. State law requires the vehicles to be driven only on low-speed roads and for no more than 1 mile.
Rhode Island – State law expressly prohibits the operation of golf carts on any public roads or property.
South Carolina – Under state law, a golf cart may be operated on public streets during daylight hours if the street has a posted speed limit of no more than 35 mph. Drivers are allowed to cross highways, so long as the road, they are on when intersecting the highway, complies with the 35-mile-per-hour posted speed limit rule.
South Dakota – As one of the few states that allow you to drive a golf cart after dark, headlights are required. Both the driver as well as the vehicle must be properly licensed and insured.
Tennessee – Pursuant to state law, all carts are considered low-speed vehicles and therefore must be registered, properly tagged, and titled as well as insured, before they can be driven on low-speed roads.
Texas – It is legal to drive golf carts on public roads throughout most of the state, but the power to regulate the operation of these vehicles falls to the local municipalities. Each local government has the obligation to pass an ordinance and enforce any regulations regarding golf carts.
Utah – Before you can drive a golf cart on low-speed public roads, you are required to obtain a vehicle identification number and properly title, register, and insure the vehicle before it may be driven.
Vermont – State law differentiates between electric and gas-powered golf carts, and as such it designates electric models as being low-speed vehicles, which may be driven on public roads so long as the posted speed limits for that road do not exceed 35 mph.
Virginia – While most states allow operation on public roads with posted speed limits of less than 35 mph, the state of Virginia will only allow you to drive a cart on roads where the posted speed limit does not exceed 25 mph. Drivers must be licensed, and may not operate the vehicle at nighttime.
Washington – The power to regulate the operation of golf carts on public roads exists with the local municipalities, provided that specified areas for operation are properly marked. All drivers must have a valid license and are not allowed to travel faster than 25 mph.
West Virginia – State law provides that local municipalities can determine whether or not low-speed vehicles may operate on public roads. As such, golf carts may be driven on public thoroughfares so long as they qualify under the law as a low-speed vehicle and are therefore properly registered, titled, licensed, and insured.
Wisconsin – The state explicitly prohibits the operation of golf carts on public roads unless they specifically qualify under the law as a low-speed vehicles. As low-speed vehicles, they are required to be registered and insured.
Wyoming – In order to operate a golf cart on public roads in the state, state law requires that all vehicles meet the same basic requirements for safety. All carts must also have a vehicle identification number which means they must be tagged, titled, and insured.
If you have ever had an opportunity to watch an Arizona State University football game in person, then you have probably seen a lot of spectators driving through Mesa Arizona on lifted golf carts.
Not every state is as lax on its rules and regulations with regard to operating golf carts on public roads, but it is legal in most of the United States.
While some states allow you to operate gas-powered golf carts, most of the states in the country limit you to battery-powered units only.
Regardless of the modifications done to your cart, it is a sign of pride to be able to roll up to the first tee in your very own custom golf cart.