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Are Golf Carts Street Legal? (Rules per State – with Examples!)

Many golf carts can go quite fast and they are very convenient to use.  For this reason, many people want to use them for getting around town.

Are golf carts street-legal?
Golf carts are street-legal in some areas but not others.  Also, it depends on how the golf cart is built and what kind of equipment it has on it.

In the rest of this post, we’ll talk about what makes a golf cart street legal.

We’ll also go over golf cart laws by state.

Basic Requirements For Golf Carts To Be Street Legal

For a golf cart to be street legal on public roads it has to meet both the federal, state, and local requirements.

Here is what the golf cart will need to meet the federal requirements:

  • 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.

On top of all of this, the golf cart must be able to travel at a speed of at least 20 miles per hour.

However, this same cart should not be able to travel at a speed over 25 miles per hour.

The reason for this is that it needs to be able to go fast enough not to interfere with automobile traffic.  At the same time, the cart should not go so fast that it needs more strict safety requirements.

State laws vary and not all states specifically state the term “golf cart” within them.  Instead, they may use the term “low-speed vehicle”, otherwise known as an LSV.

Laws Per State For Golf Carts On Public Roads

Here is what I found when researching each state’s street legal golf cart rules and regulations by state.

Keep in mind that many of the states repeat the federal regulations in their own statutes but I have removed this from the state listing below as it is redundant.

Alabama Alabama specifically states that a golf cart is not a vehicle and cannot legally be used on public roads.

This being said, some localities have made exemptions to this rule so that golf carts can be used within golf cart communities.

Alaska Electric golf carts may operate on roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less.
Arizona Golf carts may be used on roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less.  The driver must have a driver’s license to do so.
Arkansas 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.
California 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.
Colorado 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.
Connecticut 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.
Delaware Golf carts are not street legal and can only be driven on private property.
Florida 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.

Georgia 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.
Hawaii 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.
Idaho 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.
Illinois 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.
Indiana 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.
Iowa 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.
Kansas 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.
Kentucky 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.
Louisiana 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.
Maine Golf carts are legal for use in low-speed areas around golf courses and on islands that are habitable.
Maryland Golf carts are not street legal and can only be driven on private property.
Massachusetts The golf cart must be registered, titled, insured, and inspected.  The driver must be licensed and the golf cart must have plates.
Michigan 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.
Minnesota 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.
Mississippi 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.

Missouri Golf carts are not permitted on city streets.
Montana 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.
Nebraska 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.”

Nevada A Nevada golf cart permit is required in counties where the population is 700,000 or more.
New Hampshire Golf carts must be registered and insured.  They cannot be operated before sunrise or after sunset.  Drivers must be licensed.
New Jersey 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.

New Mexico Golf carts may be permitted for use on local roads but not state or federal.
New York The DMV explicitly states that you may be arrested if you operate a golf cart on public roads, sidewalks, or even parking lots.
North Carolina 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.

North Dakota 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.

Ohio 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.
Oklahoma 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.

Oregon Golf carts can be permitted by the city or county government for areas within close proximity to a golf course.
Pennsylvania 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.
Rhode Island It is illegal to drive a golf cart on city streets in Rhode Island.
South Carolina 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.
South Dakota 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.
Tennessee 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.
Texas Golf carts can be driven on local roads when permitted by the local or county government.
Utah 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.
Vermont Electric golf carts designated as low-speed vehicles may be driven on roads that have posted speed limits lower than 35 miles per hour.
Virginia 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.

Washington 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.

West Virginia Golf carts can be driven on local roads if they qualify as low-speed vehicles and the city allows for it.
Wisconsin Golf carts are not allowed on public roads unless they qualify as an LSV.
Wyoming 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.

 

Buying a Street Legal Golf Cart

Before buying a golf cart to use on public roads, it is a good idea to make sure your state and local governments allow it.

This is especially true if you live in an area that is patrolled by state police.

You may find that even though your local government allows for the use of golf carts on public roads, your state government does not. 

In this case, the state rules will apply and you may still end up getting into legal trouble.

Once you’ve determined that you can use a golf cart on public roads, you’ll want to make sure that you buy a cart that meets all of the federal requirements.  In most cases, golf carts that meet the federal requirements will meet all of the mechanical requirements for the state.

However, this may not be true if you choose a gas golf cart as some states and localities will require you to use an electric one.  In this case, you’ll want to make sure you choose an electric golf cart rather than a gas one.

Following this, you’ll probably need to check with your state and local government to see what kind of signs and license plates you need to display.  In some areas, you won’t need to have a sign or license plate.

In others, you may need a triangular reflective sign displayed on the back as well as a license plate.

Acquiring a sign won’t be hard but acquiring a license plate may be.

You may end up having to get an inspection on your golf cart and you may need to pay registration fees and even get insurance.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, every state is different and regardless of what the state says, you’ll still need to comply with federal rules and regulations.

My advice would be to check with your local government before you decide to take your golf cart out on the road.

The punishment for driving a golf cart on a road that does not permit it can be severe.

You might end up with a very expensive fine and you could even end up in jail just for driving your golf cart down the road.

Resource Links:

International Light Transportation Vehicle Association – https://iltva.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/List-of-States-allowing-Golf-Cars-on-Public-Roads.071013.pdf

Oklahoma State Senate – http://www.oksenate.gov/news/press_releases/press_releases_2011/pr20110505b.html

Law Server – https://www.lawserver.com/law/state/north-dakota/nd-code/north_dakota_code_40_05_22

New Jersey State – https://www.state.nj.us/mvc/vehicletopics/lowspeed.htm

Colorado State – https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/12-05Low-Speed%20Electric%20Vehicle%20Law%20IB.pdf

Louisiana Department of Public Safety – http://web01.dps.louisiana.gov/omv1.nsf/58c968bd569b099986256cdc000806eb/728431761882d7d686257fa3000404e7?OpenDocument

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