County tightens restrictions on operation of golf carts, other low-speed vehicles


At the urging of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office (SJSO) and other concerned community members, the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to repeal and replace the county’s golf cart ordinance with a revised and more clearly-defined version on July 17.

First brought before the board on May 15, the request to clarify and revise the county’s golf cart ordinance was originally made by SJSO.

“Probably the biggest issue that we had from the Sheriff’s Office perspective … is there was no uniformity of enforcement,” St. Johns County Undersheriff Matthew Cline explained at the commissioners’ May 15 meeting. “We were doing one thing in Nocatee, we were doing another thing in Ponte Vedra (and) doing a completely different thing out in Hastings.”

Cline noted that, since the ordinance (No. 2010-48) was enacted in 2010, changes have been made not only to statutory law, but also throughout St. Johns County as more and more neighborhoods have embraced the use of golf carts for transportation. Citing safety concerns for the children who are often unaware of the laws regarding golf cart use (operators must be at least 14 years old), Cline said that what the Sheriff’s Office needed most was clarity.

“We need an ordinance that we can apply county-wide — something that we can teach our folks, something that they understand — and then we can really start to get into the enforcement side of this,” he said. “I don’t think, from the Sheriff’s Office side of things, we’ve done a very good job enforcing what laws that we do have on the books, because they’re so confusing and we have different rules for different parts of the county.”

Golf carts, according to the Florida Statutes, may not be operated on a public road unless the county has specifically designated that road for golf cart use. For other low-speed vehicles and mini trucks, however, the opposite is true — they may operate on any road with a speed limit of 35 mph or less, except where the county has expressly prohibited their use. Further, although golf cart operators in Florida must be at least 14 years old, they are not required under state law to carry any form of identification.

Taking that information into account, St. Johns County staff drafted a proposed list of revisions to the county’s ordinance and presented them before the board on July 17, including: an expansion of the procedure for designating roads for golf cart use to include multi-use paths, an added option for the county to prohibit the use of low-speed vehicles and mini trucks on certain county roads, the requirement that applications regarding the designation for or prohibition of such vehicles’ use on existing roads and sidewalks be submitted by the affected homeowners’ association, as well as enhanced operational and equipment regulations, including the requirement for unlicensed golf cart operators to carry photo ID.

Received without protestation from either the board or the meeting’s attendees, the motion to repeal and replace St. Johns County’s golf cart ordinance with Ordinance No. 2018-42 passed 5-0.