GOLF CART CRUISIN’ ON PUBLIC ROADS – 2017 UPDATE

This week’s column was written by my law partner, Bill Hamel.

A few years ago I wrote an article titled “Is Golf Cart Cruisin’ Legal?” that addressed whether it was legal to operate a traditional golf cart on a public road in North Carolina. My answer then was “no,” and that answer remains the same today—unless you turn your golf cart into an electric car and register it with the DMV, or, more realistically, you are in a city or county that has adopted some form of the Model Golf Cart Ordinance. This ordinance allows the operation of golf carts on public roads where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. The actual name of the model ordinance is the rather cumbersome “Model Ordinance of the County/Town/City, North Carolina Establishing a Golf Cart Ordinance,” so we’ll just call it the “golf cart ordinance” for short.

We have had one notable golf-cart-on-a-public-road incident here in Charlotte: The now-infamous golf cart journey from Quail Hollow Country Club to Selwyn Pub that came at the close of the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship. Although the details are sketchy, it appears that a couple of guys (stone sober, no doubt) borrowed a golf cart from Quail Hollow County Club and somehow maneuvered it all the way to Selwyn Pub—a distance of more than 5 miles—without being detected by law enforcement. This foolhardy expedition made the local news, the national news, and even earned a shout-out from Golf Digest. Neither the City of Charlotte nor Mecklenburg County have enacted a golf cart ordinance, so that little road trip was a surely violation of more than a few state laws.

What has changed since my prior article on this subject is that many of our surrounding cities have now adopted some type of golf cart ordinance that allow golf carts to be operated on public roads under certain conditions. For example, Belmont, Pineville, Lincolnton, Indian Trail, China Grove, Granite Quarry, and Locust, just to name a few, have adopted a golf cart ordinance. While each version varies, the constant is that the ability to drive a golf cart on public roads in those cities is limited to streets with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less.

If you live in a city that has adopted a golf cart ordinance and want to drive your golf cart on a public road, you should consult the ordinance first to make certain you understand its idiosyncrasies. If you live in Charlotte, it’s still not legal for you to drive your golf cart on a public road, so for now it’s probably best just to take an Uber to Selwyn Pub.

This column was originally published in the Charlotte Observer on September 30, 2017. © All rights reserved.

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