With all its gorgeous golf courses and private communities, certain areas of South Carolina often feel like they’re overrun by golf carts. But these are motorized vehicles — not toys — and anyone who intends to operate one must be aware of the current SC golf cart laws 2019. If you fail to properly register your cart and don’t operate it in a safe, legal manner, you are subject to a fine and even imprisonment.
Can You Drive a Golf Cart on the Road in South Carolina?
If you use a golf cart to get around your neighborhood or local area, you should know that the laws governing the driving of golf carts on public streets have recently changed. South Carolina does not restrict what you do with your golf cart on your own property, but operation on public roads is another matter.
More Usage, More Injuries.
Golf cart usage is rising, and because of that, a rise in golf cart accidents is not far behind. If you violate the law by allowing your underaged, unlicensed kids to drive, by operating the vehicle while impaired, or in any other way, you are putting yourself, your family, and the general public in danger.
Children are at an alarmingly high risk, accounting for about one-third of injuries. In a study at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, researchers analyzed golf cart accident victims younger than 18 who had been treated at the University’s pediatric trauma center over an eight-year period. They found half the injuries to be severe to moderate and a quarter required a stay in the ICU. An earlier study, covering 17 years, found almost 148,000 persons of all ages were treated in emergency departments for injuries related to golf cart usage.
Other golf cart injury statistics include:
- Children under the age of 16 accounted for almost one-third (31.2 percent) of the injuries.
- Over the 17-year period studied, injuries rose at a steady pace each year, with a total increase of 132.3 percent.
- Nearly half of the injuries (47.7 percent) involved soft tissue damage.
- Roughly 1 in 13 cases (7.8 percent) required hospitalization.
- About 15 percent of injuries occurred because of golf cart usage on public roads and streets.
- One in 10 golf cart accidents are rollovers. These accidents usually produce the most serious injuries and deaths.
If golf carts had seat belts, serious injuries in rollovers would likely be fewer, but SC does not require seat belts in golf carts. Few states do.
What’s Legal for Golf Carts in SC?
If you use a golf cart to get around your local area, know our state’s laws if you plan to drive on public streets and roads:
- You must have a valid driver’s license.
- You must also have a golf cart permit decal. You will need to show a title, proof of liability insurance, and pay five dollars to SCDMV. Permits must be renewed every five years or if you move.
- When you operate the golf cart, you must carry your license, registration, and proof of liability insurance with you.
- You may operate golf carts only during daylight hours.
- You may drive golf carts only on secondary streets and roads that have speed limits of 35 mph or less. These streets and roads must be within four miles of the address listed on the cart’s registration. You may also drive a golf cart within four miles of an entrance or exit to a gated community. Local ordinances, however, can further restrict distances, so check your locality to be sure.
- If on an island not accessible by a bridge designed to be used by cars, you may drive your permitted golf cart on any secondary highway and street with a posted speed limit of 35mph or less.
- You may not drive a golf cart on a bike path.
- Golf carts must have headlights, tail lights, and blinkers.
- It is illegal to drink and operate a golf cart. The same DUI laws that apply to motor vehicles also apply to golf carts. Just as you should worry about getting into a car crash if you drive drunk, worry about driving a golf cart in the same way.
- An unlicensed minor is barred from driving any type of vehicle on a public road in SC, including a golf cart. Only people 16 years or older with a valid driver’s license may operate a golf cart in the state. A minor with no driver’s license is barred from driving any type of vehicle on a public road in SC, including a golf cart. Parents should keep in mind that they will be the liable party if their minor child causes an accident or causes damages or injuries while driving a golf cart illegally.
Rest assured the police will be looking for violators of the new laws, so make it your business to know your golf cart laws! If caught breaking South Carolina golf cart laws, you may be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined up to $200 and even sentenced to up to 30 days in prison!
The Louthian Law Firm: Experts on South Carolina Golf Cart Laws
Bert Louthian and Herb Louthian are experienced personal injury attorneys with a thorough knowledge of SC golf cart laws 2019. If you’ve been hurt in a golf cart accident, get in touch with us today for a free consultation. If we take your case, we get paid only if you do, so there’s nothing to lose.