Is A Golf Cart Street Legal? – Steps To Convert To An LSV


Having a golf cart around makes it convenient for traveling to and from the neighborhood market and between neighbors homes. Have you ever had that sneaking suspicion though, that driving them on the street can earn you a traffic ticket?

Are golf carts street legal? Unless it was purchased as an LSV or modified after…probably not. Each state, city, village, and town has their own rules on operating golf carts and should be checked to make sure that an LSV (Low-Speed Vehicle) is allowed on streets that have a speed limit of 35 mph or less. 

Golf Carts That Are Street Legal

Not interested in modifying an existing cart? Here are a few pre-built new models for consideration:

Club Car’s Villager 2 series of LSV Golf Carts fit the bill for a road-ready vehicle

Textron E-Z-Go’s 2Drive is a stylish and safety-conscious Street-Legal vehicle

Bintelli carries a line of Street Legal Golf Carts ranging from $7,290 to nearly $13,000

How To Make Your Cart Street Legal

So, what accessories make a golf cart street legal? These are usually best bought in a kit unless your budget requires installing them in steps. Kits are usually packaged for a specific model cart, as shown here.

  • Headlights
  • Tail Lights/brake lights
  • Turn Signals
  • Horn
  • Windshield
  • Mirrors
  • Seat Belts

In addition to the above list, some locales will require these …

  • Slow Moving Vehicle Sign
  • Speedometer
  • Insurance
  • 21 years of age
  • Registration
  • A Map of Which Roads LSVs Are Permitted

We are converting a golf cart into an LSV which is defined by law as a four-wheeled vehicle whose maximum speed falls between 20 and 25 miles per hour on a paved level surface. Its GWVR (total weight of all cargo, fluids, and passengers plus the vehicle itself) is limited to 3,000 pounds.

Headlights

There are universal headlight kits available for any golf cart, but finding a set specially made for your model is usually more visually appealing. To look up your year and model, you can check the guides on this site:

They can be extra bright light bars or separate left and right units. The make and model of your cart will determine the best fit for each of the options available.

Bear in mind that when you are modifying an electric cart, you will need to invest in a power reducer. These are easy to install and will adapt all of your 12-volt accessories to your 18, 24, and 36-volt systems.

If you are buying a specific make and model kit, you will need to decide if you want a basic package, or what they term as “Street Legal” kit. The “Street Legal” kit will usually include the turn signals and tail lights.

Tail Lights/Brake Lights

You will need red-colored lights in the back and amber lights in the front…just like on an automobile. It is a good idea to get the taillights and turn signal units together in a package to prevent incompatible parts from requiring a repurchase. These kits will usually include the amber front turn lights with the red rear tail/stop lights and are very cost-effective in the long run.

Horn

The price of the horn you purchase will be determined by the sound you want or one loud blast versus a tune like “Dixie.” One of my neighbors’ carts sports an “AHOOGA” old-timey tone…he is not a popular man.

The horn button will have three options for mounting: dashboard, floor, and steering column. The horn unit itself will usually mount under the front fender or bumper.

Windshield

I have a windscreen on my cart, but it won’t pass the legal test for the streets. Why? Because it is a half-windshield and does not protect the face from bugs and road debris. In fact, I am not sure what good it is other than being ornamental. The windshield MUST be a full-height model, and unless you are into fabricating your own frame, you will need to match your cart make and model. It must conform to automobile safety glass standards as well.

If you really want to get into the safety portion of installing a windshield, you might want to consider wipers as an add-on.

Mirrors

Mirrors are a must even if you aren’t making the cart street legal. There are many places on the trails and golf courses that will require a short ride on the road to get to the next path entry. You need to be able to see when a car or truck is approaching from behind so you can pull over until they pass. They must be mounted to give you an unobstructed view at a glance.

Seatbelts

Seat belts are needed in your golf cart to operate legally on the road as well and are always a good idea. You wouldn’t think it was easy to roll your vehicle, but a sideways cross on a steep hill can turn dangerous. You also want to prevent losing a passenger or two on a busy city street. If you have a rear seat, you will need to install belts for these as well.

Universal kits will do fine for this upgrade if there is no specific belt for your model. The universal models usually bolt through the floor pan.

Slow Moving Vehicle Sign

You know the yellow triangle-shaped signs on the back of tractors, trailers, Amish buggies, etc. While this is not usually required equipment, it gives you just a slightly better edge for being seen in time by approaching vehicles and can be removed when not on the street.

Speedometers

Almost never needed because your cart has an average top speed of 22 mph., but some of you Do-It-Yourselfers have modified the electric traction motor, or swapped out the motor for something beefier. Admit it..if you modified your cart in this way, you WANT to know how fast you can go now.

Insurance

Just like a standard vehicle, you must obtain insurance. You cannot be on the road without adequate coverage…and you wouldn’t want to be.

A golf cart insurance policy typically includes some basic coverages:

  • Property damage liability coverage
  • Bodily injury liability coverage
  • Collision coverage
  • Comprehensive coverage

So, why would you want to make your golf cart street legal? Well, consider it as a conveyance in corporate and school campuses. They can be used in large areas at amusement parks, outdoor garden tours, as an airport terminal shuttle and plain old recreation. Golf carts are a cost-effective option for all short-distance trips.

You Must Be 21 Years Old

The minimum age to drive around your property can be as low as 14 in some areas, but when you get on the street, the law requires you be 21 or older.

Registration

Here is an example of a South Carolina DMV registration:

If you have a valid driver’s license, you may drive the golf cart during the day within four miles of your home or business and on secondary highways.
To receive a golf cart permit, do all of the following:
Complete the Golf Cart Permit Registration (SCDMV Form GC-2) This is a PDF file
Provide proof of insurance for the golf cart
Provide your valid driver’s license number
Pay $5
You must replace your golf cart permit every five years or if you change your address.

Every municipality will be different, so be sure and check local DMV requirements.  An online reference for different state laws may be downloaded from the International Light Transportation Vehicle Association Here

Where LSVs Are Permitted And What Is Required

StateRoads Permitted?Top Speed Permitted for LSV?
AlabamaLocal option, municipal streets in class 2 municipalities during daylight hours25 mph
AlaskaThe local ordinance may allow use on roads with a posted speed limit of 45 mph or less; otherwise roads with a posted limit of 35 mph or less.25 mph
ArizonaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
ArkansasRoads on which a low-speed vehicle would not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic25 mph
CaliforniaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
ColoradoRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less; Colorado DOT may permit LSVs on some roadways with a speed limit equal to 40 mph25 mph
ConnecticutNo state lawNo state law
DelawareRoads, other than dual highways in unincorporated areas, where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less 25 mph
District of ColumbiaRoads on which a low-speed vehicle would not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic25 mph
FloridaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
GeorgiaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
HawaiiRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
IdahoRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
IllinoisRoads with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less; local ordinance may allow use on roads with a posted speed limit of thirty-five mph or less 25 mph
IndianaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less35 mph
IowaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
KansasRoads with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less25 mph
LouisianaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
MaineRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less35 mph
MarylandRoads with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less25 mph
MassachusettsRoads with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less25 mph
MichiganRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
MinnesotaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
MississippiNo state LawNow state law
MissouriRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
MontanaNo state lawNo state law
NebraskaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
NevadaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
New HampshireRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
New JerseyRoads with a posted speed limit of 25 mph or less; the commissioner may permit use on specified roads where the posted speed limit is greater than 25 mph but not greater than 35 mph25 mph
New MexicoRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
New YorkRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
North CarolinaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
North DakotaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
OhioRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
OklahomaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
OregonRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
PennsylvaniaRoads with a posted speed limit of 25 mph or less; the secretary may permit use on specified roads where the posted speed limit is greater than 25 mph but not greater than 35 mph25 mph
Rhode IslandRoads on Prudence Island with a posted speed limit of 25 mph or less during the hours of 6:00 am through 6:00 pm25 mph
South CarolinaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
South DakotaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
TennesseeRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
TexasRoads with a posted speed limit of 45 mph or less35 mph
UtahRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
VermontRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
VirginiaRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
WashingtonRoads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
West VirginiaRoads within the corporate limits of a municipality where the speed limit is 25 mph or less25 mph
WisconsinLocal option may allow use on roads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less25 mph
WyomingNon-interstate highways on which the vehicle is capable of achieving the maximum speed limit Not Specified

Conclusion

Most people love driving their golf carts and don’t want restrictions to golf courses only. Whether you are taking a trip to your neighbor’s house or taking a quick journey to the local store, a golf cart is a very economical way to go. More and more people are utilizing golf carts to get them from point A to point B.

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