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The Villages
Thursday, March 16, 2023

Enjoy your golf cart …. safely and legally

Lady Lake Police Chief Chris McKinstry

Now that many of our seasonal residents and guests are back with us, a quick refresher message about golf carts cannot hurt.  This is especially true in light of the fact that serious consequences, including death, are a very real possibility for not following the law.

Just look around our local neighborhoods and you’ll see the boxy, open-air-vehicles morphing into mini cars that are as common as the full size vehicles zipping around.

Some people are even putting a new spin on the rides, customizing them like hot rods, airplanes, and fire engines to cruise on and off the golf course.  But it is important to remember that this fun mode of transportation has legal and safety limitations.

Laws relating to golf cart operation are sometimes confusing especially when dealing with driver license requirements.  The following information is being provided to assist with the understanding of the requirements and responsibilities of operating a golf cart on a public road or street.  While the following is not a completely comprehensive legal examination, it does provide a snapshot of important highlights contained in the law.

Florida State Statutes pertaining to uniform traffic laws apply throughout the state and its several counties and uniform traffic ordinances apply in all municipalities.

By definition a “golf cart” is a motor vehicle.

Florida Statute § 322.01 (27) defines a “motor vehicle” as any self-propelled vehicle, including a motor vehicle combination, not operated upon rails or guideway, excluding vehicles moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchairs, and motorized bicycles as defined in Florida Statutes § 316.003.

Florida Statute § 316.212– Operation of golf carts on certain roadways:

The operation of a golf cart upon the public roads or streets of this state is prohibited except as provided herein:

(1)  A golf cart may be operated only upon a county road that has been designated by a county, or a municipal street that has been designated by a municipality, for use by golf carts.

(7)  A golf cart may not be operated on public roads or streets by any person under the age of 14.

Lady Lake Town Ordinance 17-3 (2)– Authorization to operate golf carts within golf cart communities:

Golf carts meeting the definition set forth in subsection (1) above may be operated within communities recognized by the town commission as “golf cart communities” on such streets designated therein for golf cart usage. Each golf cart community shall provide signage regulating the use of golf carts and designating streets or other areas where golf carts may be operated. Speed-modified golf carts or “hybrid” golf carts are not authorized for use on streets within golf cart communities.

A golf cart heads down County Road 466.

Lady Lake Town Ordinance 17-3 (5)- Compliance with traffic laws:

Golf carts shall comply with all applicable local and State traffic laws, and may be ticketed for traffic violations in the same manner as motor vehicles.

Sumter County Ordinance 17-3 (a) (1)- Operation of golf cars:

Golf carts are defined as a motor vehicle designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes that is not capable of exceeding speeds of twenty (20) miles per hour.

Florida Statutes § 322.34- Driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified.

(1) … any person whose driver license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked, … who drives a vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked is guilty of a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.

(2) Any person whose driver license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked as provided by law, except persons defined in s. 322.264, who, knowing of such cancellation, suspension, or revocation, drives any motor vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked, upon:

(a) A first conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(b) A second conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(c) A third or subsequent conviction is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

The element of knowledge is satisfied if the person has been previously cited as provided in subsection (1); or the person admits to knowledge of the cancellation, suspension, or revocation; or the person received notice as provided in subsection (4). There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the knowledge requirement is satisfied if a judgment or order as provided in subsection (4) appears in the department’s records for any case except for one involving a suspension by the department for failure to pay a traffic fine or for a financial responsibility violation.

Here is the answer to the “can I drive a golf cart question”:  Any person who has a cancelled, suspended, or revoked driver’s license cannot legally drive a golf cart on any public road or street, and may be subject to citation and/or arrest. 

So, assuming you are legal to drive a golf cart, let us help keep you legal and off of the following roadways:

Golf carts may not cross over or drive on the following roadways:

Lady Lake:  Highway 27/441, CR 466, Griffin Avenue, Rolling Acres Road, or any other road with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or higher. 

Sumter County: Highway 27/441, CR 466, CR 466A, CR 44, El Camino Real, or Rainey Trail.  (Designated golf cart crossing – El Camino Real at the traffic light between Enrique Drive and Botello Avenue, and Rainey Trail between Lynnhaven Lane and Miona Shores Drive)

Fruitland Park: CR 466A, (Miller Blvd) (Miller St) – Designated golf cart crossings points: College Avenue and South Dixie Avenue.

CR 468 (Rose Ave) (Willard Ave) – Designated golf cart crossings points: Berckman Street, Pine Ridge Dairy Road, Myrtle Lake Avenue, Urick Street

CR 25A (S Dixie Ave) North of Shiloh St to Highway 27/441.

Wildwood: CR 466A, SR 44, US 301, Powell Road, or any other road with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or higher.   

Marion County: CR 42, Highway 27/441, with the only exception of Highway 27/441 at SE 176 Street at the traffic light where Spruce Creek South is located.

Crossing over, or driving on, any of the above roadways is a violation of Florida law, Section 316.212 and carry fines of $160 and up. 

Even though the fines are expensive, they will be the least of your worries if you have a crash with a car or truck traveling at 35 MPH or more.  Please remember that your golf cart was not designed to share a roadway with larger vehicles such as cars or trucks and it will provide you no protection in a crash.

The men and women of the Lady Lake Police Department wish all of our residents and guests to safely, and legally, enjoy the abundant availability of golf cart activities.

Chris McKinstry is chief of police in Lady Lake.

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