Can I Drive My Golf Cart on the Streets in Pinellas County?

Living in Pinellas County, you see golf carts everywhere. They are obviously on the multitude of golf courses in Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater and so on. You see them in almost every neighborhood in these cities as well. Sometimes, you even see them on the main streets riding along side with cars. Are you interested in getting a golf cart for your home or do you already have one and you are wondering what the laws are regarding operating one in Pinellas County? Then, read on…

Operating golf carts

Tampa Bay Times reports that “operating golf carts on public roads, streets, or sidewalks is prohibited in Florida, but there are exceptions: golf carts can use county or municipal roads that have been designated for cart use by the governmental entity that has authority. Factors such as the volume and speed of traffic that ordinarily uses the road are considered in making this designation. If the designation is made, the county or municipality in charge is accountable for posting signs that say that golf cart used is allowed.

Carts are also permissible for use by municipal and state recreation and parks departments on roads that are part of the state park road system if the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less and the carts are equipped with headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and a windshield.

Golf carts are permitted on sidewalks only if the local governing entity determines that conditions call for such usage, that carts, bicycles, and pedestrians may safely share the sidewalk, and the appropriate signs are posted that inform residents that the ordinance exists.

Enforcement is up to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction; violations of state statutes on the use of golf carts are considered noncriminal traffic infractions. One more detail: The minimum age for a golf cart operator is 14”.

Law in Florida

“First, it is important to distinguish a “low speed vehicle (LSV)” and a golf cart. LSV’s are any four-wheeled vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 mph but less than 25 mph and comply with federal safety standards. They look like golf carts, but have safety equipment (headlamps, turn signals, mirrors, etc.) that make them safer on the roads. Florida Statute § 316.2122 governs their use. You have to register an LSV and hold proper insurance for it. Once you have that, they are “street legal” on roads that have a 35 mph speed limit or less UNLESS a governing body prohibits them from specific streets. However, you must have a valid driver license to operate LSV’s in Florida.

Golf carts aren’t so lucky. Florida Statute § 316.212 prohibits their operation EXCEPT in certain circumstances. First, if the road is part of the State Highway System, you probably can’t drive on it except to cross the road. There are some exceptions, but you shouldn’t plan on it.

If the road is a county or city road (NOT part of the State Highway System), counties, cities, and municipalities are authorized to permit golf carts on certain roadways IF 1) it is safe and 2) the city or county posts signs allowing their use. You can also cruise on some State Park Roads with a speed limit of 35mph or less. Golf carts must meet other safety standards to be considered “street legal” as well. And finally, you must be over 14 years of age to operate a golf cart on any road regardless of whether it is a city, county, or state road, according to Taylor & Taylor Law Firm.

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Division reports the following information regarding Low Speed Vehicles, Golf Carts and Converted Golf Carts.

Low Speed Vehicles

Section 320.01(41), Florida Statutes, defines LSVs as “any four-wheeled vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour, but not greater than 25 miles per hour.”  LSVs must be registered, titled and insured with personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) insurance. Any person operating an LSV must have a valid driver license in their immediate possession.

LSVs may be operated only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 MPH or less and must be equipped with the following safety equipment:

  • Headlamps;
  • Front and rear turn signals;
  • Stop lamps;
  • Tail lamps;
  • Reflex reflectors, red – one each side and one on the rear;
  • Exterior mirror on the driver side and an interior rear-view mirror or exterior mirror on passenger side;
  • Parking brake;
  • Windshield;
  • Seat belt for each designated seat; and a
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN).

To title and register an LSV, take the following documents to a Motor Vehicle Service Center:

  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin;
  • Form HSMV 82040 (Application for Title);
  • Proof of Florida insurance (minimum $10,000 PDL and $10, 000 PIP);
  • Identification – driver license, ID card or passport; and
  • Applicable fees
    • Title fee
    • Plate fee
    • Initial registration fee, if applicable
    • Registration fee (varies by weight of vehicle)

Golf Carts

Golf carts are defined in section 320.01(22), Florida Statutes, as “a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 miles per hour.” Golf carts may be operated on roadways that are designated for golf carts with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less. Golf carts may also cross a portion of a county road which intersects a roadway that is approved for golf carts, or that intersects a golf course or mobile home park. In both examples the roadway should have signs posted that golf carts share the roadway. The operation of golf carts on roads must comply with any more restrictive ordinances enacted by local government and should be verified prior to operating these vehicles.

Golf carts are not required to be titled or registered and, therefore, are not required to be insured with PIP and PDL insurance coverage. Golf cart operators are not required to have a driver license; however, to operate a golf cart on designated public roadways, a person must be 14 years or older.

Converted Golf Carts

Golf carts can be converted to LSVs (see LSV safety equipment requirements above). Buyers should be aware that if a golf cart has been modified to an LSV, the registration and title date do not reflect the manufacture date (age of the vehicle). Instead, it indicates the year it was registered and titled. This means that the vehicle could be older than the date listed on the title.

Titling and Registering a Converted Golf Cart

Prior to titling and registering a converted golf cart, the vehicle must be inspected and assigned a VIN at a Motorist Services Regional Office. The converted golf cart must be street-legal before applying for title and registration.

Trailer the converted golf cart to a Motorist Services Regional Office and present the following documents and fees for an inspection, VIN assignment, title and registration:

  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin or a bill of sale for the golf cart Form HSMV 84490(Statement of Builder) completed by customer and Compliance Examiner/Inspector;
  • Form HSMV 86064 (Affidavit for Golf Cart Modified to a Low Speed Vehicle);
  • Original bill(s) of sale or receipt(s) for all parts used to convert the golf cart to a low speed vehicle;
  • Certified weight slip for the converted golf cart;
  • Form HSMSV 82040 (Application for Title);
  • Proof of Florida insurance (minimum $10,000 PDL and $10,000 PIP);
  • Sales tax or sales tax exemption information for all parts;
  • Identification – driver license, ID card or passport; and
  • Applicable fees
    • Inspection fee
    • Title fee
    • Plate fee
    • Initial registration fee, if applicable
    • Registration fee (varies by weight of vehicle)

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