Can I Get a DUI While Driving My Golf Cart???
This is a great question. Most people either don't think about a golf cart as being a motor vehicle or they don't care. Why don't they care? I get it. I live in a neighborhood where many people have golf carts. It's a Saturday afternoon; you pour a cocktail or a beer. You are driving 4 blocks away to the local bar. Under SC law, you are only allowed to drive the golf cart during the day. (I understand your golf cart has lights...but having checks in your check book doesn't mean you have money in your account....lights on your cart doesn't mean you can drive it at night). So, let's say the time gets away from you while at the bar. It turns from day to night. You are really close to home and you only have to cross one busy street. Then it is smooth sailing for 3 blocks until you turn into your drive way safe and sound. On block two after the cop sees you crossing the busy street (because it is night time) he pulls you over. You brought your Coors Light in a bottle with you for the ride home. It's a golf cart... No big deal, right? The golf cart feels like you are on vacation and the rules don't apply as they do in a car. But they do!
The officer asks you where you are coming from. The bar. How many drinks have you had? Two. (Standard BS answer and by the way the cop knows you are lying even if you are not). And you are drinking a beer in the golf cart-- oh yeah, that's called open container. He's got you for that. Now jump out of the cart and perform some field sobriety tests to make sure you are good to drive on home. LOL. At this point you are going to jail. The field sobriety tests, by the way, are optional. I mean, if you refuse to take them you will get arrested. If you have great balance and have not had much to drink then by all means give it a shot. Just remember that you are being videotaped which will be played back for the jury in trial. I'll do another blog post about field sobriety tests.
Long story short, it is illegal to drive a golf cart impaired. And accidents do happen on golf carts. I have heard of many. I have defended people who were arrested for DUI on their golf cart. People get into accidents on their golf carts. And people get hurt. Keep a good insurance policy on your golf cart. They are usually motorcycle policies.
Here is the skinny on the SC state law for golf carts:
1. SC Code of Laws section 56-1-10: A motor vehicle is every vehicle which is self-propelled and not operated on rails...
(Ok, so that means a golf cart is treated just like a car)
2. Mopeds: "Moped" means a cycle, defined as a motor vehicle, with or without pedals, to permit propulsion by human power, that travels on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground whether powered by gasoline, electricity, alternative fuel, or a hybrid combination thereof. Based on the engine or fuel source, the moped must be equipped not to exceed the following limitations: a motor of fifty cubic centimeters; or designed to have an input exceeding 750 watts and no more than 1500 watts. If an internal combustion engine is used, the moped must have a power drive system that functions directly or automatically without clutching or shifting by the operator after the drive system is engaged.
3. SC Golf Cart Permit. If you own a golf cart you must get a permit from the DMV. The cost is $5. You must have insurance on the golf cart. Here is the link to get that done: Golf Cart Permit Registration (SCDMV Form GC-2)
4. You can only drive on roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or less and only during the daylight hours! You must stay within 4 miles of your residence.
5. Seatbelts in golf carts: They make them. They work. Get them for your golf cart. It will cost you $35. It is worth it. They will keep you and your kids safe. We have an old golf cart and my son knows to fasten the seatbelt every time he gets in the golf cart. It is a good habit.
HAPPY GOLF CARTING!