What Makes A Golf Cart “Street Legal”?

By Keith C Miller

Do you want a street legal golf cart? Before you rush into this purchase, take some time and do the research needed to make sure you are going to be able to get your vehicle licensed. Unlike the vehicles that are used solely on the golf course, a street legal golf cart must be properly inspected and licensed in most states before you can operate it on the roads.

The issue with getting a state approved license for your street legal golf cart is almost always on the equipment that the vehicle has or does not have. If you think about it, this only makes sense. Take a look at any of the popular brands of vehicles that are being offered today for use on the golf course. These vehicles rarely have any safety equipment at all, and they almost never have any lights on them. As long as they are being used on the course, this is fine. They don’t need that kind of equipment. Now, consider driving one of these vehicles out on a public road. No brake lights, no headlights, no turn signals, and no whatever else you want to use to fill in the blank. The risk to both the driver of the vehicle and to others would be too great. That is simply a fact.

In order to get one of these base model vehicles up to the level of a street legal golf cart, certain devices simply have to be added to it. We mentioned several items above, ie headlights and turn signals, but these are just a few of the items that most States require before they provide the vehicle with a license or permit. They often want to see a horn on the vehicle that can be heard a certain distance. It is not unusual for States to require reflectors on all sides and the back of the vehicle. Virtually every State requires some form of safety restraint or seat belts. The inclusion of these items is how you turn a golfing vehicle into a street legal golf cart.

There is a catch here, though, and it is an important one. Each State is allowed to set its own requirements. This means that there is no single list of items for you to use that will cover you in all 50 states. The way to avoid disappointment and added expense is to get these requirements from your own state before you buy the vehicle. This is truly the only way to know for sure what you need on the vehicle. If you find that the vehicle you want does not have a particular device already installed on it, you can request from the vendor that they add it.

To get the information that you need simply contact your local licensing authority. This is usually the same place that does driver’s licensing. You will want to pay particular attention to any insurance requirements your state may have as well. Many states require you to license a street legal golf cart much the way you have to insure an automobile.

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