What Makes a Golf Cart Street Legal?

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A couple driving down the road in their street legal golf cart

Perhaps you’ve looked on with jealousy at the folks cruising down the street in a golf cart. But is that really legal?

In many states, you can legally drive a golf cart on the street. But what are the specific requirements for a street-legal golf cart?

Today we’ll review the requirements for making a golf cart street legal in several states. Let’s learn more.

Can You Drive a Golf Cart on the Road in the U.S.?

In the United States, street-legal golf carts are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to cars for short trips around town. While golf carts are not street legal in all states, there is a growing movement to change this.

Proponents of legal golf carts argue that they are more environmentally friendly than cars and cause less pollution. They also argue that golf carts cause less noise pollution. 

In addition, golf carts take up less space, making them ideal for use in crowded urban areas.

Ultimately, whether or not golf carts are allowed on U.S. roads depends on which state or municipality you live in. 

Do You Need a License for a Golf Cart? 

Whether you need a license to drive a golf cart also depends on where you will go. Most states require the golf cart driver to be licensed whenever using it on a public road. 

Some states may allow an unlicensed driver to drive a golf cart as long as they have a licensed adult driver with them or if they remain on private property.

Golf courses are often considered private property. As such, many do not require a license to rent or drive one on the golf course.

Multiple street legal golf carts parked side by side

Each state has rules regarding golf carts, including what makes them legal for the road or if you can even use them. 

Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles to find out the street legal requirements in your area.

However, if you want a street-legal golf cart, which falls into the low-speed vehicles (LSVs) category, these are the basic federal requirements.

Must Be Operated by a Licensed Driver

A licensed driver must operate the golf cart. In some states, this means the driver must have a regular driver’s license, while in others, the driver might require a special license or endorsement to operate a golf cart on public roads.

DOT Approved Tires

The golf cart must have tires approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). These tires will have a DOT mark on the sidewall. Non-DOT-approved tires are not street-legal.

Windshield Wiper and Seat Belts

The golf cart must have a windshield wiper on the front window. In some states, the windshield must use shatter-resistant material. Additionally, the golf cart needs seat belts for all passengers.

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Minimum Top Speed

The golf cart must be able to travel at speeds of at least 20 miles per hour but not more than 25 miles per hour. It can only travel on roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less.

A person driving in their street legal golf cart

Mounted Mirrors

The golf cart must have at least one mirror on the driver’s side and one on the passenger’s side. These mirrors must give the driver a clear view of the road behind them.

Reflectors

The golf cart must have front, rear, and side reflectors. These can be in the form of stickers or actual reflectors.

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Lighted License Plate

The golf cart must also have a license and a light on the rear license plate. The light should be white.

Speedometer and Horn

The golf cart must have a working horn and a speedometer.

Headlights, Taillights, and Stopping Lights

​​The golf cart must have working headlights, taillights, and stopping lights (brake lights). These can be either incandescent or LED lights. 

Before registering your golf cart, ensure it meets all federal and local requirements for a low-speed vehicle. Beyond the necessary equipment, each state could also have varying requirements for registering a street-legal golf card.

Most states have similar minimum requirements for registering a street-legal golf cart.

These typically include an application form, the Manufacturer’s State of Origin Certificate, which includes the vehicle’s identification number (VIN), a sales tax form, and proof of liability insurance.

Not all golf carts will have a VIN. Some may have a serial number or none at all. To get a VIN, you can take it to a dealership that provides this service.

Some states may go even further, requiring a certified safety certificate, proof of emissions inspection, or other similar paperwork.

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A family driving down the road in their street legal golf cart

Do You Need Insurance on a Golf Cart?

If your golf cart is street legal, or registered as a low-speed vehicle, it must have a title, registration, and insurance.

Golf cart insurance is typically relatively inexpensive. It can range anywhere from about $75 per year and upward of $500 or more, depending on your location, the value of your golf cart, and the level of coverage you opt to purchase.

Check with your state and local motor vehicle regulations to determine the specific requirements for making your golf cart street-legal.

Most states have similar basic rules, but there may be some differences in equipment requirements or registration procedures.

Once you know the requirements, you can start outfitting your golf cart and preparing it for the road. Have fun driving your new street-legal golf cart around town!

Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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