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Can You Legally Drive A Golf Car on the Streets of Tampa, Florida?

If you have been involved in a an SUV or car accident in the Tampa Bay area call Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez at 813-755-9500
Golf Carts on road in Florida

Can You Legally Drive A Golf Car on the Streets of Tampa, Florida?

In the City of Tampa, Florida, golf carts are only permitted to be on the public roads on Davis Islands.  Meaning, the ones you see throughout South Tampa are illegal unless they are tagged, registered and insured.

Tampa City Ordinance Sec. 14-55 states that Golf carts are permitted on public roads on Davis Islands.  There are no other exceptions in the city except on golf courses and crossing the street to get from one side of the golf course to the other.

Operating the golf carts on Davis Islands in Tampa, Florida is subject to the requirements and restrictions contained in this section and all applicable provisions of Florida Statutes, operation of golf carts on the public roads of Davis Islands is permitted pursuant to F.S. § 316.212 (2016). But to be clear, the provisions of section 14-55 shall apply only to Davis Islands

What is the Required Equipment on a Golf Cart to be street legal?

The required equipment to make a golf cart street legal is: 

  1. At all times while being operated on public roads, golf carts shall be equipped with: 
    1. Efficient brakes;
    2. Reliable steering apparatus;
    3. Safe tires;
    4. A rearview mirror, and
    5. Reflectorized warning devices in both front and rear.

Violation of the above equipment requirements is a nonmoving traffic infraction chargeable by uniform traffic citation as a violation of F.S. § 316.212(6).

Can you Operate a Golf Cart on the Street of Davis Islands in the dark?

Yes, you can operate a golf cart in the dark (after sunset), IF the golf cart is equipped with:

  1. Headlights;
  2. Brake lights;
  3. Turn signals, and
  4. A windshield.

Violation of the additional equipment requirements is a moving traffic infraction chargeable by uniform traffic citation as a violation of F.S. § 316.212(5).

Is there a Minimum Age to Safely Operate a Golf Cart?

Yes, there is a minimum age to safely operate golf cart. The driver of any golf cart operated on public roads must be a minimum of 16 years of age and display reasonable proof thereof to any requesting law enforcement officer. A person having a valid learner’s driver license (at least 15 years of age) may operate a golf cart when in full compliance with F.S. § 322.1615. 

Can you operate a golf cart on the sidewalk?

No, operation of golf carts on sidewalks is prohibited. 

What is the Current Florida Law On Golf Cart Operation?

As of 2021, if you are only planning on operating your golf cart on a golf course and on your private property, the Florida Statutes, defines the rules in section 320.01(22) as “a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 MPH.” Golf carts are allowed to be operated on roadways that are designated for golf carts with a posted speed limit of 30 MPH or less. 

In the state of Florida, golf carts are NOT required to be registered and titled and there are no requirements to be insured with PIP or PDL coverage. The minimum age requirement to operate a golf cart is 14 years old.

However, if you are wanting to legally drive your golf cart on roadways where the posted speed limit is up to 35 MPH, you need to make sure your cart meets the standards of a low speed vehicle (LSV).  An LSV is a vehicle that has a top speed that is greater than 20 MPH but less than 25 MPH.  

There are some basic requirements for an LSV to be street legal compliant.  Low speed vehicles need to have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), be registered and titled.  LSVs must also be insured with personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL).  Low speed vehicles are only permitted to be operated on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 MPH or less.

When Do golf carts need tags? 

When the news surfaced on December 1, 2022, that a sheriff’s deputy stopped Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor and her husband on their golf cart, it raised the question: Can you Drive a Golf Car on the Roads of Tampa? Does a golf cart even need a license plate?

A golf cart doesn’t need to be titled or registered if it’s operated on a golf course and can’t top speeds of 20 mph, according to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These can be driven on roads that are specifically designated for golf carts with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less.

However, any golf carts that go between 20 and 25 mph and are driven on streets where the speed limit is 35 mph or less must be registered, titled, insured and operated by a licensed driver, according to the agency, which defines them as low-speed vehicles (LSV).

Additionally, under Florida state law, if one is driven outside of these approved areas (in Tampa, Florida, only Davis Islands is an approved area), it must have all of the same appropriate registrations as a regular car.

What Types of Golf Carts Are There?

There are three types of golf carts: regular golf carts; low speed vehicles (LSVs); and off-highway vehicles (OHVs). It is important that consumers understand the differences between LSVs, golf carts and OHVs, the traffic laws applying to these vehicles, and the regulations regarding registration, titling and insurance.

Low Speed Vehicles

Section 320.01(41), Florida Statutes, defines LSVs as “any four-wheeled vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour, but not greater than 25 miles per hour.”  LSVs must be registered, titled and insured with personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) insurance. Any person operating an LSV must have a valid driver license in their immediate possession.

LSVs may be operated only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 MPH or less and must be equipped with the following safety equipment:

  1. Headlamps;
  2. Front and rear turn signals;
  3. Stop lamps;
  4. Tail lamps;
  5. Reflex reflectors, red – one each side and one on the rear;
  6. Exterior mirror on the driver side and an interior rear-view mirror or exterior mirror on passenger side;
  7. Parking brake;
  8. Windshield;
  9. Seat belt for each designated seat; and a
  10. Vehicle identification number (VIN).

What is Considered a Golf Cart in Florida?

Golf carts are defined in section 320.01(22), Florida Statutes, as “a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 miles per hour.” Golf carts may be operated on roadways that are designated for golf carts with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less. Golf carts may also cross a portion of a county road which intersects a roadway that is approved for golf carts, or that intersects a golf course or mobile home park. In both examples the roadway should have signs posted that golf carts share the roadway. The operation of golf carts on roads must comply with any more restrictive ordinances enacted by local government and should be verified prior to operating these vehicles.

Golf carts are not required to be titled or registered and, therefore, are not required to be insured with PIP and PDL insurance coverage. Golf cart operators are not required to have a driver license; however, to operate a golf cart on designated public roadways, a person must be 14 years or older.

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