In the world of golf cart owners, there are many people with very, very, very fun ideas. There are also people with very, very, exceedingly crazy ideas.
To moderate the extreme creativity among golf cart owners, there exist laws and regulations to keep any unsafe modifications or behaviors in check. There are rules one must follow in order to make one’s golf cart street legal.
If you decide to drive a golf cart that does not abide by these rules & regulations, you are setting yourself up for legal trouble & fines. Follow the advice in this article, and do some additional research to make sure you are staying within street legality when it comes to your golf cart.
How to Make a Golf Cart Street Legal? – 2022 Guide
If you are like us, customizing your golf cart, whether it be with a paintjob, a lift kit, or anything else, is an enticing idea. However, we must still follow rules if we wish to make our golf cart street legal.
First of all, you must look at your local and federal regulations for the legality of golf carts. If you live in the United States (US), you can read our article describing the minimum age requirements, and other requirements of driving a golf cart according to your state (look at the 2nd table).
If you live in the United Kingdom (UK), you can read our article describing the minimum age requirements, and some other requirements of driving a golf buggy.
You will likely need to spend money to modify your golf cart if you want to make it street legal, depending on the laws set by your local authorities. Follow these laws if you wish to avoid fines and legal trouble. Your local department of transportation is a good resource to consult for advice.
Note: Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. You NEED to do additional research before using a golf cart as a street legal vehicle. Laws are constantly changing, and you need to contact your local authorities to make sure you follow the laws. Read the subsections down below to make sure your golf cart follows some of the other regulations.
Modifications Required to Make a Golf Cart Street Legal
Down below is a list of the modifications you may be required to do to make your golf cart street legal. To make a golf cart street legal, a big part of the modifications required will give your vehicle more car-like attributes. Your local authorities can inform you of the specifics of the modifications required, but the list below is a good general starting point.
Golf Cart Lights
The first modification you need to do is to add functional lights to the golf cart. The lights need to be bright enough to illuminate the road and make the golf cart visible to other vehicles.
You need working headlights, turn signals, taillights, and brake lights.
The brake lights need to be connected to the brakes so that they will turn on when you slow down and alert other vehicles.
Golf Cart Windshields + Wipers
If there is not already one present, you need to add windshields to the golf cart to aid with clear visibility, and protect from wind, rain, and other disturbing elements.
In case of rain, you will need windshield wipers. You cannot drive in the rain if your windshield is full of rain, and standing up to wipe your windshield with a towel is obviously not a safe option. Therefore, you are usually required by law to add windshield wipers to your golf cart.
The windshield and windshield wipers usually need to be approved models by your local department of transportation, so do inform yourself with the department to know which options are available to you.
Golf Cart Mirrors (Sides and Center)
In order to drive on the street or road, you need to be able to see what is behind you.
To see the road behind you without turning your head, you will need two side mirrors, as well as a center rear-view mirror.
You will need one side mirror on each side of the golf cart to view cars approaching from the side before they enter your blind spots. The center rear-view mirror will allow you to see the entire road behind you from far away.
Golf Cart Seatbelts
A golf cart is a dangerous vehicle to have an accident with on the road. One element that dramatically increases the danger of golf carts on the road is the fact that they usually do not feature doors.
Therefore, in case of an accident, if there is nothing keeping you inside of the car, you will theoretically be ejected out of the car and sustain gruesome injuries or even death. To prevent ejection from the golf cart, seatbelts are mandatory to be installed in golf carts meant to be street legal.
The seatbelts usually need to be approved models by your local department of transportation, so do inform yourself with the department to know which options are available to you.
Golf Cart Horn
As a small, relatively slow vehicle on the road, a street legal golf cart absolutely needs a way to alert other vehicles of imminent danger.
Therefore, golf carts need to install a sufficiently loud horn in order to be street legal.
Golf Cart Reflectors
As a small, relatively slow vehicle on the road, a street legal golf cart needs to make itself more visible than other vehicles.
To achieve maximum visibility, on top of lights, golf carts need to have reflectors attached to their body. These reflectors will reflect the lights coming from other vehicles, and alert other drivers of the golf cart’s presence.
You will need reflectors on all 4 corners of your golf cart.
Golf Cart Speedometer
In order to respect speed limits, both the lower and upper limits, you will need a way to monitor your speed.
Therefore, to make your golf cart street legal, you will need to install a speedometer that gives accurate speed-readings.
The speedometer usually needs to be an approved model by your local department of transportation, so do inform yourself with the department to know which options are available to you.
Golf Cart Engine
To drive on a public road, your golf cart needs to be able to drive fast enough to not clog up the road or cause dangerous situations. Many stock golf carts struggle to ever go faster than 25 miles per hour, which is too slow for public roads.
To become street legal, you need your golf cart to be modified to drive at a minimum of 25 miles per hour. To reach this minimum speed, you will need to upgrade your golf cart engine for a more powerful one. A more powerful engine will have a significantly higher horsepower rating (HP).
However, even though you need to increase your cart speed, do not increase your cart speed too dramatically. Golf carts are taller than their wider, which makes them very unstable vehicles, particularly while turning.
Because of their shape, golf carts run a high risk of tipping over and creating serious or lethal injuries. To avoid losing control, keep the speed capabilities of your golf cart to manageable speeds.
Accidents in golf carts are much worse than in cars because they are much smaller. If a car hits a golf cart head on, at the same speed, the golf cart will receive 3 to 5 times as much blunt force as the car.
Golf Cart Tires
You may or may not need to change your golf tires to make them street legal.
The golf cart tires usually need to be approved models by your local department of transportation, so do inform yourself with the department to know which options are available to you.
Golf Cart Slow Moving Vehicle Sign
In some areas, a slow-moving vehicle sign is required on your golf cart.
This red and orange triangular sign is well known by drivers on the road as a warning to exercise caution around the slow vehicle. This sign can potentially reduce the probability of an accident involving your golf cart.
Every street legal golf cart must have a registered VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number). A VIN number is a 17-digit identification number that is unique to your own golf cart. No two golf carts can have the same VIN number.
If you are in the market for a second-hand street legal golf cart, you can look up its VIN number in the registers to search up its history.
Thanks to this, you can discover whether or not the golf cart was involved in any accidents which could lead to hidden damage.
Golf Cart Registration + License + License Plate
To make your golf cart street legal, you will need to get a license, and a corresponding license plate securely attached to your golf cart.
Your golf cart will need to be fully registered, and you will need a driver’s license (the same license as a regular car driver’s license).
To make your golf cart street legal, you will need to have an insurance plan.
After reading this article, you now know some of the regulations you must follow in order to drive your golf cart on the street legally.
However, we cannot stress enough that you must do your own research before driving a golf cart on the street, and that consulting your local authorities is the only sure way to ensure that you are remaining within street legality.
The best way to avoid fines and legal trouble will always be by contacting your local department of transportation or similar entities. Get your information straight from the horse’s mouth. We wish you great luck and success in modifying your golf cart to make it street legal.
Where are you planning to drive your golf cart? Let us know in the comments down below!
Note: Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. You NEED to do additional research before using a golf cart as a street legal vehicle. Laws are constantly changing, and you need to contact your local authorities to make sure you follow the laws.