Driving a golf cart is all fun and games until you crash into a pole or tree. Indeed, a golf cart ride with your family or a senior female golfers group day out on a lazy Sunday afternoon is a perfect family outing, but not everyone can be approved to drive them. Driving comes with a lot of responsibility; hence you need to fulfill specific criteria required by state laws to qualify as a legal golf cart driver.
When it comes to driving criteria to be legally permitted to drive a golf cart, one of the first restrictions is the driver’s age. Although the legal driving age for golf carts varies from state to state, quite naturally, children aren’t allowed to drive. If you are wondering whether you, your sibling, or your child are allowed to drive a golf cart or not, read to the end to find out.
Age Restrictions For Driving a Golf Cart
Age is an important criterion for driving motorized vehicles and understandably so even if it’s a golf cart. It’s believed that teens are more prone to rash driving and higher driving age will ensure safety for the driver as well as the pedestrians. This notion is supported by an online survey where it was revealed that in 2018, 2,476 teenagers aged 13 to 19 were killed in motor crashes.
However, regardless of the debate, most states allow 14-year olds and above to drive golf carts. Other states, such as California and South Carolina even allow 13-year olds to drive a golf cart.
The rules associated with golf carts are also different for every state. For example, in Texas, you need a driving license to be able to drive a golf cart, and the minimum age for getting a driving license is 16. So regardless of where you reside, children aged 13 and below are not allowed to drive golf carts.
Do You Need a Driving Licence For Golf Carts?
Just like the age restriction for golf carts, every other law associated with driving a golf cart differs from state to state. As mentioned before, Texas requires the driver to have a legal driving license before driving golf carts. And for that, the driver has to be at least 16 years old.
However, this law has not been adopted by all other states. Some states allow minor drivers to drive a golf cart without a driving license, provided they are accompanied by an experienced driver with a valid driver’s license. This is especially very helpful for children who are not eligible for a driving license.
However, this law is heavily dependent on what the state defines as a golf cart. All the golf carts look similar but the definition of a golf cart may differ from state to state.
What Is a Golf Cart?
Before we proceed, it is essential to understand what actually is the legal definition of a golf cart according to your state laws.
A lot of factors come into play when deciding if a particular vehicle can qualify as a golf cart or not. These factors include the weight of the vehicle, the maximum seating capacity, and the purpose of use. Each state has adopted its own set of criteria. For your vehicle to be a golf cart, it must meet those standards.
Typically any vehicle that has the following is defined as a golf cart:
- Specifically meant to carry golf kit and accessories
- It runs only on the golf course
- Does not exceed the weight limit of 1300 pounds
- Maximum seating capacity for two people
- Used as a recreational vehicle
- It doesn’t exceed the speed limit of 20 to 40 miles/hour.
These are the basic standards on which the qualification of a vehicle as a golf cart depends. The exact numbers will vary, but the criteria remain the same.
If your vehicle does not meet the state law’s requirements, it will be treated as a regular motor vehicle. In that case, it will have to follow all the traffic rules a regular car follows, and a driver’s license will be required. Under these circumstances, your child would not be allowed to drive unless they have attained the legal driving age.
Since golf carts are not like regular motor vehicles and come with a driving limit of 25 to 40 mph, some states also require you to put on a sign stating “Slow Moving Vehicle.” This is done to ensure the safety of the driver and other carts and people on the field.
Many states do not allow golf carts to be operated on public property or streets, especially when a child is driving it. In fact, this is why golf carts are exempted from most traffic rules and mandatory auto insurance.
Driving Laws On Private Property For a Golf Cart
The laws that govern golf carts on public properties are not the same as the rules for private properties.
For private properties, the government does not intervene, and the owner of the land and cart has a free hand in deciding the rules and regulations for driving the cart.
The lack of government intervention and restriction often leads to a higher percentage of accidents. The reason is that children and parents tend to be careless and hand over the control to an inexperienced, minor driver. However, no matter what the situation turns out to be, the government does not have any right to step into this matter unless your child is at risk.
In this case, it is also essential to understand what exactly qualifies as private property and which doesn’t. For example, the estate owned by the driver’s parents or family is considered private property. The minor drivers are allowed to drive a golf cart without any binding state laws on that land.
However, they are not given the same privileges on golf courses, stadiums, and other fields that private entities might own. If a property does not belong to you, it would be wise to treat it as public property when deciding a minor’s rights to drive a golf cart on it.
Punishments For Underage Golf Cart Driving
Although golf carts are different from traditional motor vehicles, they still are motorized automobiles required to follow all the rules & regulations enforced by the state.
The punishment for underage driving of a golf cart is different for each state. In many states, you can be let go with a fine, but other states might impose a heavy fine on you and land you in jail for repeated offenses. If caught, it will also affect the minor driver’s future scope of getting a driver’s license.
Other common restrictions include:
- Limiting the legal driving hours only till the sun sets
- Having a legal guardian accompanying the minor on the golf cart
- Abiding by the speed limit, which is 25 to 40 mph
- Displaying the slow-moving sign vehicle on the golf cart
It’s not only important to meet these guidelines to avoid legal trouble but is also necessary to ensure the safety of your child as well as the people and other vehicles on the golf course.
Driving can be a lot of fun. It is also an essential skill that every parent should teach their child. However, this should not be done at the cost of someone’s life or limb. Driving requires sufficient skills and expertise, and children aren’t ready to take that kind of responsibility.
So even if you want your child to learn how to drive a golf cart, you have to wait until the optimum age. After all, they have their whole life before them, and it’s certainly not worth risking it over temporary fun.