Life on Daniel Island is quite enjoyable. Advantages of island life include many methods by which we can move around – walk, bike, vehicles and golf carts. Like us, many of you have probably found yourself driving behind a golf cart on Seven Farms Drive at what seems like a snail’s pace. In addition to frustration, many questions swirl through your mind at that moment including, “Is this even legal?!”
Hopefully, our review of the rules and laws about golf carts will help you answer that question.
To properly have this discussion, we must first define “golf cart.” A golf cart is a cart with a maximum speed of 20 mph. Compare this to a “low-speed vehicle,” which is built for street travel and can travel in excess of 20 mph. This review is for golf carts only, because low-speed vehicles are governed by the same rules and laws which govern automobile travel.
According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and golf cart laws, these are the requirements to operate a golf cart:
• Must be 16 years old.
• Must have a valid driver’s license.
• During the day.
• Within 4 miles of your home. Good news here is that almost every part of Daniel Island is within four miles of any other part.
• On secondary highways. A secondary highway is defined as a road with a speed limit 35 mph or below. More good news, all Daniel Island roads are secondary highways.
• During operation of the golf cart, the operator must have in his/her possession: (a) the registration certificate issued by the DMV; (b) proof of liability insurance for the golf cart; and (c) his/her driver’s license.
A few other important requirements about golf carts:
• Must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
• Display the registration permit decal on the golf cart. The permit is replaced every five years.
• Obtain liability insurance on the golf cart.
• With regard to alcohol, drinking on a golf cart is NOT permitted.
From a golf cart passenger’s standpoint, what is required? For example, imagine as you watch a golf cart sling out of Publix, inevitably with five kids on it, including an unrestrained 3-year-old bouncing on the front seat. A good rule of thumb for golf carts is to respect them the same as your vehicle, including the use of legal child restraints.
The question you may all ponder (but hopefully not) – can I get in trouble if I don’t follow these rules? What if my son/daughter wrecks the cart? The short answer is yes. A violation of the golf cart rules can subject you to criminal prosecution of a misdemeanor, but certainly more serious issues may result in more serious circumstances.
Additionally, in the event your failure to follow the laws results in harm or damage to another, then you could have legal civil liability. In fact, South Carolina law permits liability for parents when a child causes injury or damage to another while operating a golf cart.
Chris Mingledorff and Michael Patterson are attorneys and partners at Daniel Island law firm, Mingledorff & Patterson LLC. For more information, go online to mptrial.com/ or call 843-471-1015.