Golf carts: The new car on the block


Special to the Recorder

If you see a speed limit sign for 35 miles per hour or less, it’s quite possible you may see a golf cart riding down the road beside you.

Many Floridians are taking advantage of the state’s accommodation to allow Low Speed Vehicles – also known as LSVs or “street-legal” golf carts – on the roads. For many, it’s a convenient and fun way to travel short distances.

Currently, the Department of Motor Vehicles requires several upgrades to standard golf carts in order to be approved for street-legal use, including a special windshield, turn signals, brake lights, seat belts, speed requirements and several other safety-minded accessories. These upgrades generally add approximately $1,500 to the cost of an ordinary golf cart, plus DMV fees, tag fees and insurance costs. In turn, most people agree it also generally increases the resale value of the car for that same amount. Once a car has been titled, it’s easily transferrable – and coveted by those who don’t want to go through the somewhat cumbersome inspection process at the DMV.

There are some communities in Northeast Florida, including Atlantic Beach, that are proactively pursuing ordinances to allow golf carts on the road with even fewer requirements, which could mean less out-of-pocket expense for golf cart owners who want to share the road. Other Florida communities, such as Flagler Beach, have embraced these relaxed restrictions, which offer golf cart owners a new money-saving option. By registering their golf cart with the city for a small annual fee, these golf cart owners can take advantage of LSV status at a significantly reduced cost. Such ordinances are also encouraging residents to use their golf carts in place of traditional vehicles in an effort to help with parking challenges and traffic flow, with the added bonus of being an eco-friendly alternative to cars with gas emissions.

But make no mistake: Golf cart owners who live in an area without a relaxed city ordinance for golf cart use on the roads could be in for a rude awakening. Riding a golf cart on a public road without street-legal status could be quite costly – the owner may be ticketed. Police officers are also said to be cracking down on those without tags, insurance and the proper safety equipment.

Golf cart friendly communities are nonetheless on the rise, giving residents an opportunity to get out and enjoy the Florida sunshine while also helping to forge new relationships, offering neighbors a chance to visit and interact more. In addition, owning an LSV can provide significant cost-savings by reducing traditional wear and tear on a family’s automobiles.

“We’re seeing a tremendous increase in the number of customers who are inquiring about and purchasing street-legal carts,” said Garrett Wilson, owner of Jacksonville’s XL Custom Golf Carts. “This is an exciting time for North Florida, as we’re finally seeing the shift that other cities around our state have embraced for years.”