Briefing Room: golf carts are not street legal

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Logo courtesy of Seal Beach PD

Hi Seal Beach,

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve received a couple of questions about golf carts being driven on city streets.

I get it, sometimes you see golf carts being driven up or down the hill, on Main Street, and all over Old Town.  So what’s the deal?

Technically there are a couple of different types of vehicles that we colloquially refer to as “golf carts.”  Let’s turn to our old friend, the California Vehicle Code, to help define these.

Golf Cart (CVC §345)—“A “golf cart” is a motor vehicle having not less than three wheels in contact with the ground, having an unladen weight less than 1,300 pounds, which is designed to be and is operated at not more than 15 miles per hour and designed to carry golf equipment and not more than two persons, including the driver.”

Low Speed Vehicle (LSV) also known as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) (CVC §385.5) – “(a) A “low-speed vehicle” is a motor vehicle that meets all of the following requirements: (1) Has four wheels. (2) Can attain a speed, in one mile, of more than 20 miles per hour and not more than 25 miles per hour, on a paved level surface. (3) Has a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 3,000 pounds. (b) (1) For the purposes of this section, a “low-speed vehicle” is not a golf cart, except when operated pursuant to Section 21115 or 21115.1. (2) A “low-speed vehicle” is also known as a “neighborhood electric vehicle.”

OK, so now that we know the difference between these two, which is and is not street legal?

In short, golf carts cannot be driven on the street (except in designated highways within 1 mile of a golf course, and Seal Beach has no such designated highways).

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) or Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV) can only be operated by licensed drivers and must be insured and registered with the DMV.  If someone decided to drive their LSV or NEV on the roadway without a license, their vehicle would be impounded for 30 days and they would receive a citation.  Parents, you may not allow your unlicensed child to drive these vehicles or YOU may by subject to citation as well.

Not sure if your vehicle qualifies as a NEV or LSV?  A Low-Speed Vehicle MUST BE CERTIFIED to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) to be registered and legally operated on public streets, roads, or highways with a speed limit not exceeding 35 mph. The federal regulations specify requirements for low speed vehicles. A low speed vehicle is a 4-wheeled motor vehicle, whose speed is not more than 25 mph. The standard requires ten specific items of safety equipment

1) Headlamps

2) Front and rear turn signal lamps

3) Tail lamps

4) Stop lamps

5) Front/Rear/Side reflectors

6) Drivers side mirror and either interior or passenger side mirror

7) Parking brake

8) Glazed windshield

9) 17-digit conforming VIN number

10) Seatbelt assembles installed at each designated seating position

Alright, so what about Leisure World?  Golf carts are allowed in Leisure World, but they cannot be driven outside of this community and onto city streets.

We totally understand the convenience of having a golf cart and using it to run to Pavilions, or drop your kids off at McGaugh, or transport your surfboards down to the beach.  However, please remember that they are not street legal, are dangerous to operate on the street, and can earn you a ticket.  Regardless of the vehicle you are operating, always be safe, wear your seatbelt, and don’t drink and drive (you can even get a DUI on a bike so don’t even chance it).

Seal Beach, keep your questions coming.  Please email askacop@sealbeachca.gov today!

Briefing Room: golf carts are not street legal