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Community : Top Stories Last Updated: Jul 7, 2014 - 5:39:03 PM


Golf Carts & LSVS: Follow the rules!
By Elizabeth Bush
Jun 18, 2014 - 10:27:34 AM

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It’s officially summertime on Daniel Island - and golf carts and low speed vehicles (LSVs) have become almost as numerous as the palm trees. In fact, sales of the open-air, battery-operated transports have definitely been on the rise, according to one local dealer.
“The popularity of them has increased,” said Allistair Headley, owner of Lowcountry Golf Carts on Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant. “…Golf carts have gone well past that point of being just for golf courses…We’re seeing it all over the country, not just here.”
Daniel Island residents Cindie and Bill Thrower purchased their LSV when they moved to Daniel Island several years ago and use it as often as they can.
“I drive it anytime I don’t have to leave the island,” said Cindie. “We go to the pet store, the grocery store, to dinner, to the dry cleaners, to the pool…The more I use it the less I have to gas up (my other vehicles)!”
“We use ours to take our kids and their friends to the pool, or to a restaurant or the parks, and sporting events,” added Mary Bares, whose family owns a golf cart. “Anything around the island, so we don’t have to get out our car. We use it a lot!”
With so many golf carts and LSVs on the road on Daniel Island, City of Charleston Police are hoping to bring residents up to speed on what is and isn’t allowed. According to CPD Senior Officer Pierce White of Team 5, it seems there is still some confusion.
“I’ve probably issued hundreds of warnings,” said Officer White. “…I believe it’s actually this idea that golf carts are more toys than motor vehicles.”
One of the most common infractions is underage drivers, he noted. As with both golf carts and LSVs, the driver must be at least 16 years of age and hold a valid driver’s license (a learner’s permit won’t cut it).
“My record for catching an underage driver is a six year old little girl,” added White. “She was actually driving in traffic!”
“It’s very important for everybody to understand that you’re not supposed to drive a golf cart when you’re not 16 years of age,” stated Police Chief Gregory Mullen, at a recent Town Meeting hosted by CPD at the Daniel Island School. “If your five or six year-olds or your eight or nine year-olds are driving golf carts around, that’s a problem.”
And parents who allow underage drivers to operate a golf cart or LSV can be held accountable.
“Parents who permit an unlicensed driver to drive are not only liable, they are criminally liable and they may be charged,” White said. “In fact, I have cited dozens of parents out here for permitting that.”
Understanding the difference between golf carts and LSVs can bring some clarity as to the rules of the road. While both golf carts and LSVs must be registered with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, only LSVs must display an actual license plate. Golf cart owners are issued a blue sticker that is to be placed on the front windshield. An LSV, which can reach a top speed of 25 miles per hour, is treated like a motor vehicle and is required by law to have the same equipment and documentation required for automobiles (seat belts, headlamps, brake lights, signal lights, etc.). An LSV is permitted to drive at night, while a golf cart is not.
“Here’s how it works,” added White. “If you see a vehicle go by at night and it has neither the blue sticker on the front or a tag on the back, (we) stop it for that. That blue sticker on the front and the tag on the back is how you can tell (the difference). If the tag is on the back, it’s an LSV. If there is a sticker on the front, it’s a golf cart. If it’s neither, they’re going to be pulled over.”
Both LSVs and golf carts must also be insured and carry required documentation, along with the  appropriate vehicle registration information. While seat belt use is not required by law on golf carts, it is on LSVs. Child safety seats are also a must on LSVs, said White, but are not mandatory for golf carts.
“It is very much recommended (on golf carts), because if you have an infant sitting in the back with no way to hold him or her down, that’s putting the child at unreasonable risk, and that takes it to a different level. That takes it to child neglect or unlawful conduct towards a child.”
While operating a golf cart or LSV you may also not drive on sidewalks, island bike or walking trails, or on the grass in city parks. And, thanks to a new City Ordinance (19-182), you may not use a handheld electronic device for texting, gaming, emailing, or taking photos with your camera phone while driving a golf cart or LSV (violations can result in a $100 fine).  In October of 2012, South Carolina laws were amended to be more specific regarding use of electric, battery-powered vehicles.
“There is not a lot that’s different,” said White. “The old law simply talked about how they could only be driven during the day, could be driven four miles from the residence, they had to have the little sticker, and hinted about insurance. But what they did with the new law is they made it very specific…and they made them stronger and easier to enforce.”
After years of educating the community about requirements, and laws that are now much more clear cut, Senior Officer White is hopeful golf cart and LSV drivers will rev up adherence.
“We feel now that the time for warnings is over and people will be cited if this continues to be a problem….The community’s safety is our utmost concern and the residents can help us out a great deal by simply following the laws and regulations. And if they do, that makes our job a lot easier, and it makes for a safer and happier community.”

GOLF CART REGULATIONS
*Must be driven during the day only
*Must be operated within four miles of the address on the registration certificate and only on a secondary highway or street for which the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less.
*May cross secondary highway posted greater than 35 miles per hour at an intersection.
*May ONLY be driven by a licensed driver who is last least 16 years of age.
*Must be insured to be driven on the street
*Must NOT be driven on the sidewalk, on grass in city parks, or on bike or walking trails.
*Must be registered with the DMV and stickered to be driven on street
*Driver must have registration, driver’s license, and insurance documentation in possession.
*Driver cannot use handheld electronic device to text, game, email, use camera phone, etc. while golf cart is being driven (City Ordinance 19-182).
*Child safety seats and seat belts recommended, but not required.
*Effective October 2012, golf cart registration permits must be replaced with a new permit every five years, or at the time the permit holder changes his or her address. Golf cart owners holding golf cart permits dated on or before October 2012 will have until September 30, 2015 to obtain a replacement permit. Visit www.scdmvonline.com for more information.

LSV REGULATIONS
*May only be driven on highway posted 35 miles per hour or less
*Driver must be licensed and at least 16 years of age.
*Must be insured and registered to drive on street
*Must display license plate (tag must display validation sticker)
*Driver must have registration, driver’s license, and insurance documentation in possession.
*Must use child safety seats
*Passengers must wear seat belts
*Driver cannot use handheld electronic device to text, game, email, use camera phone, etc. while golf cart is being driven (City Ordinance 19-182)
*Can be driven at night
 (For additional information on golf cart and LSV regulations, visit www.scstatehouse.gov under Chapter 56 of the South Carolina Code of Laws).
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