Are Golf Carts Street Legal? Could You Be Driving ‘Off-Course’?

Forget Tesla – there’s a smaller, safer, and cheaper contestant in the Electric Vehicle Thunderdome. And in recent years, they’ve been cruising around streets as well as golf courses with increasing popularity.

But due to their size and their lack of speed, many people question the legality of driving a golf cart on the street. So, are golf carts street legal? The short answer is that they can be legal in some places, provided they are insured, registered, and kitted out with all the necessary accessories.

Let’s take a ride into the world of golf cart street driving.

Are Golf Carts Street Legal in the US?

In the US, the laws of driving a golf cart on the street vary not only from state to state but also by city/municipality. More and more local authorities are embracing the presence of golf carts, particularly in states such as Florida, California, Texas, and Georgia. Other states are less open to it.

However, even if you live in a golf-loving state such as Florida, you should ALWAYS check with your local municipality to confirm that it’s OK to drive a golf cart in your area. The rules are always changing, and neglecting just one detail could land you a nasty fine. The authorities should be able to provide you with all the necessary information, but as a starting point, you are going to need:

  • A driver’s license
  • A 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Insurance
  • Working lights (head, brake, and tail lights with turn signals)
  • DOT-approved tires
  • Mounted mirrors (interior and exterior),
  • A Speedometer, a horn, a windshield with wipers, and seatbelts
  • A lighted license plate bracket
  • Minimum top speed between 20 – 25mph

In the states/cities in which they are allowed, golf carts can be driven on roads with a 35mph limit or less. They’re also commonly used in college campuses, military bases, and beach towns.

Are Golf Carts Street Legal in the UK?

Golf carts are allowed to be driven on certain UK streets, provided they meet all of the necessary requirements. A golf cart in its standard form will not be road-legal; it must meet the basic safety features of a motorized vehicle. For your golf cart to be street legal in the UK, you will need:

  • A driver’s license
  • An MOT certificate
  • Insurance
  • Working lights (head, brake, and tail lights with turn signals)
  • DOT-approved tires
  • Mounted mirrors (interior and exterior),
  • A Speedometer, a horn, a windshield with wipers, and seatbelts
  • A lighted license plate bracket
  • Minimum top speed of 20mph

With all of these requirements met, golf carts may be driven on roads with a speed limit of 25mph or less.

Since the rules are ever-changing and may vary slightly from one area to another, we recommend that you contact your local road authority before driving your golf cart on the street, just to be sure that it’s OK.

Making Your Golf Cart Street Legal

In order to be road-worthy, your golf cart will need to be accessorized with some basic safety features that you’d expect on a regular motor vehicle. There are places from which you can buy a road-ready golf cart – or, you can go out about adding the following to your current golf cart yourself.

Lights

Even if you’re only ever planning on driving your golf cart in the daytime, you’ll need a full set of lights, including headlights, turn signal lights, brake lights, and tail lights. This Kemimoto Light set has been rated highly, though it might be worth shopping around to see if you can secure a better price.

Mirrors

Next up, you’ll want to add some mirrors. On the road, you’re legally required to have a rearview mirror as well as two side mirrors, the same as any other motor vehicle. This 10L0L Mirror Kit contains a rearview and two side mirrors, all of which are high quality, and are easily installed on any kind of golf cart.

Seatbelts

An absolute must! Everyone riding in your golf cart should have the safety of a seatbelt. This Loytes Seat Belt Kit will fit most golf carts and is surprisingly easy to install. It’s worth considering adding a seat belt kit even if you’re not planning on taking it out on the road, especially if you are cruising with children onboard.

Protective Windshield

Since you’ll be driving alongside other full-size vehicles, you’ll need a buffer to protect you against kicked-up stones, dust, or any other kind of projectile. Many golf carts nowadays come with a pre-installed windshield, but you can soon add one yourself if not. Something like this EZGO Windshield should do the trick.

Horn

Make some noise! This 10L0L Golf Cart Horn Kit contains a horn and a button with adjustable volume control and can be easily mounted wherever you choose.

Speedometer

Although golf carts don’t move particularly fast, it’s important to always be aware of what speed you’re driving at. This VJOYCAR C60s Digital Speedometer should do the trick.

Slow Moving Vehicle Sign

Many local ordinances will require you to have a ‘Slow Moving Vehicle Sign’ attached to your golf cart while you’re out on the road. Even where it’s not legally required, it’s highly recommended to have one, as it grants you an extra touch of safety, and provides a bit more in the way of legal cover.

Final Thoughts

Unless you purchase one that comes fully equipped with all the necessary road safety accessories, you’ll need to invest a fair amount in the modification of your golf cart in order to make it street legal. When you’re road-ready, double-check with your local authorities to make it’s OK to drive a golf cart on the street.

It may seem like time and hassle, but it’s bound to be worth it. Golf carts can be an awesome, environmentally friendly way of getting around.

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