Golf Cart Laws in South Carolina

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Driving through your neighborhood on a hot summer evening, you may notice that more and more of your neighbors and their kids are tootling around in golf carts. Sometimes they travel only within a subdivision or community, but some ambitious golf carters have been seen cruising along four-lane highways, untroubled by the idea that they might be vulnerable to a high-speed collision, or possibly a costly traffic ticket if spotted by law enforcement. If you or someone you know owns or operates a golf cart on public streets, here are a few things you need to know to stay safe and within the law.

• In South Carolina, only licensed drivers over 16 years of age can drive a golf cart. It’s illegal for children or unlicensed drivers to operate golf carts on public roads – even those within their neighborhood. If you allow a child to operate your golf cart, you are criminally and civilly liable for any accidents or injuries that may result.

• Registration with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles is required if you intend to drive your cart on public roads. A golf cart permit costs five dollars, and you must have proof of ownership and liability insurance. These permits last five years, but must be renewed if you change your address.

• In South Carolina you can only drive a golf cart during daylight hours, unless your municipality passes an ordinance allowing nighttime operation. Gov. Nikki Haley signed this new exception into law on June 8, and Darlington currently has no ordinances in the works on this issue.

• Legally, you can drive your golf cart on secondary highways or streets with posted speed limits of 35 MPH or lower. You can drive across a highway or street with a higher speed limit, but you must stay within four miles of your registered address. When traveling, keep your driver’s license, registration and insurance on hand.

• To be considered in road-safe condition, your golf cart needs functioning headlights, tail lights, and turn signals.

• You can be charged with DUI if you drive your golf cart while drunk, and open containers of alcohol are just as illegal in golf carts as they are in cars.

• Even though golf carts are low-speed vehicles, serious injuries are still possible, especially for children who fall from the vehicle while it is in motion. Make sure all passengers are seated, sober, and paying attention to their surroundings.

Author: Duane Childers

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