Beaufort County and Hilton Head Island are famous for their large number of golf carts used by tourists and residents alike. In addition, Golf Carts have become more common in some downtown areas like Greenville and Anderson, but new changes to South Carolina law are poised to affect how golf cart usage is regulated. Before you hit the road in your golf cart this month, here’s what you should know about your responsibilities as a golf cart driver–and the potential penalties you face for violating them.
South Carolina Golf Cart Laws
Amendments to South Carolina’s law regarding golf carts (and similar low-speed vehicles such as mopeds) go into effect on November 19. Major changes to the penalties that can be imposed for breaking this law have the potential to affect the state’s golf cart drivers. For the first time, any driver caught violating any section of South Carolina law that applies to golf cart usage can be charged with a misdemeanor. This can carry a fine of as much as $100 or jail time of up to 30 days. (Note that severe offenses while driving a golf cart can also be charged as a felony.)
The ability to punish drivers with a misdemeanor already existed under South Carolina law, but the section that outlined potential punishments didn’t explicitly apply to golf carts. The changes to the statute are an attempt to make the rules for issuing citations against golf cart drivers clearer.
So how can you avoid being charged with a misdemeanor when you hop behind the wheel of your golf cart? First, know who can and who cannot legally operate a golf cart in the state. All golf cart drivers must be 16 years or older and have a regular and valid driver’s license. The golf cart itself must be registered with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and have a state decal permit displayed, and the driver must be prepared to show proof of insurance. There are also limits to where a golf cart can be legally operated: all drivers must stay within a four mile radius of the registered address of the golf cart and golf carts cannot go on any roads that have a speed limit over 35 miles per hour.
Nighttime usage is also limited. Up until a couple of years ago, all nighttime golf cart driving was banned throughout the state. Recent changes have allowed individual municipalities to allow nighttime driving as long as the golf cart has front and rear tail lights–but be certain to check to see a specific municipality’s rules on nighttime usage.
South Carolina Injury Attorney
Following these rules can help ensure that you don’t get charged with a misdemeanor after November 19. As always, remember that golf carts are vehicles and failing to operate them properly can be dangerous as evidenced by four fatal accidents involving golf carts occurred in Beaufort County in the last decade alone. If you have been in an accident involving a golf cart, call the attorneys at Ryan Montgomery Law for a free case evaluation.