New Florida Law Changes the Law for Teen Golf Cart Drivers
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new bill into law that will significantly impact young golf cart drivers across the state. Effective October 1, 2023, HB 949 requires teens to have a permit or driver’s license to operate a golf cart on public roads.
Previously, Florida law allowed 14-year-olds to drive golf carts without any permit or license. This leniency led to children even younger than 14 taking the wheel, posing a safety risk to themselves and others. The new law aims to address this issue by requiring teens to be at least 15 years old with a learner’s permit or 16 years of age with a driver’s license to operate a golf cart on public roads.
Sen. Erin Grall, the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, emphasized, “There’s a level of training that we expect when people operate a vehicle on our public roadways.”
Who Can Drive a Golf Cart Now?
Under the new law, if the driver is under 18, they must be at least 15 years old with a learner’s permit, or 16 with a driver’s license to drive a golf cart. Even for those 18 and older, valid government-issued identification is now required.
What Qualifies as a Golf Cart?
According to Florida law, a golf cart is defined as “a motor vehicle designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 miles per hour.” It’s important to note that golf carts are not required to have insurance. However, a golf car, also known as a low-speed vehicle (or “LSV”) under Florida law does require insurance and multiple safety features and equipment like headlights, brake lights, turn signals, seatbelts, and a valid license plate to operate legally on Florida roads. And, it is important to note that there are restrictions on where a golf cart or golf car (an LSV) can travel. See below and our other blogs on this site for more information about where and when golf carts and golf cars can travel.
Legal Consequences of Breaking the Law
Violating this new law could result in a noncriminal traffic violation, similar to a moving violation. State law enforcement agencies, including the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office, have expressed their support for the bill, citing the increasing number of golf cart communities in Florida.
Director of Patrol Scott Beaver from the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office stated, “We don’t need 14-year-olds operating a golf cart on a highway.”
Why This Matters
This new law is a significant step toward ensuring the safety of our roads, especially in communities where golf carts are a common mode of transportation. It also brings attention to the unique legal aspects surrounding golf cart use, making it more important than ever to consult with specialized legal experts like www.GolfCartAttorney.com (Frank D. Butler, PA), if you find yourself involved in a golf cart accident.
Where Are Golf Carts Permitted Under the New Law?
Starting in October, when the updated legislation becomes active, golf carts will be permitted solely on county roads earmarked by the county for golf cart usage, streets within a municipality that have received a similar designation, two-lane county roads that fall under the jurisdiction of said municipality, or pathways maintained and owned by a water district that has authorized golf cart use.
After a public road is officially designated for golf cart use, the governing body in charge will be responsible for installing suitable signs that indicate the allowance of golf carts, along with outlining the specific criteria and age limitations for operating them.
The new law is a welcome change for many who have expressed concerns about the safety of young golf cart drivers. If you or a loved one have been involved in a golf cart accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to www.GolfCartAttorney.com (Law Offices of Frank D. Butler, PA), for expert legal advice and representation.