Village allows golf carts on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less
By Tim Fleischer, Editor-in-Chief
Salado aldermen postponed amending the current Golf Cart Ordinance to require that driver’s license and age requirement for operators of golf cart on public streets.
Like many municipalities in Texas, the Village of Salado allows the operation of golf carts on roads with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less, but implements requirements that meet the state standards in most respects.
Local regulations, however, differ from municipality to municipality.
Salado’s most recent ordinance, a surprisingly short document of just five pages amended in 2014 to include utility vehicles, is very brief in its regulation of these vehicles, stating simply on page 3:
“A. Operation on Public Streets: The Village hereby allows the operation of Golf Carts and Utility Vehicles on Public Streets in accordance with state law.
“B. Prohibition: It shall be a violation of the law for any person to operate a Golf Cart or Utility Vehicle on Public Streets contrary to this Ordinance.”
The ordinance defines a golf cart as the following: “A motor vehicle designed by the manufacturer primarily for transporting persons on a golf course, as defined by the Texas Transportation Code.”
It defines a Utility Vehicle as this: “A motor vehicle that is not a golf cart or lawn mower, equipped with side-by-side seating for the use of the operator and a passenger, designed to propel itself with at least four tires in contact with the ground, designed by manufacturers for off-highway use only and designed by the manufacturer primarily for utility work and not for recreational purposes.”
The Ordinance refers to Transportation Code 551.404, which authorizes municipalities to allow for the operation of golf carts on its public roadways with these requirements:
“(1) is in the corporate boundaries of the municipality; and
“(2) has a posted speed limit of not more than 35 miles per hour.
Section 551.404 requires that golf cart or utility vehicles must have the following equipment: headlights, tail-lights, reflectors, parking brake and mirrors. Other sections require a slow-moving vehicle emblem.
State law allows the operations of golf carts on public roads under these limited circumstances:
“(1) n a master planned community:
“(2) n a public or private beach; or
“(3) n a public highway for which the posted speed limit is not more than 35 miles per hour, if the golf cart is operated:
“(A) uring the daytime; and
“(B) ot more than two miles from the location where the golf cart is usually parked and for transportation to or from a golf course.”
At issue in Salado is the amendment to the current ordinance requiring a driver’s license and minimum age of 16.
Whether a driver’s license is a requirement for the operation of a golf cart on a public road or not depends upon who is interpreting the law.
For example, the City of Rockport is clear in its interpretations of the Transportation Code. Citing Sec. 502.001(18) golf carts are considered motor vehicles. Citing Sec. 521.021, an operator must hold a driver’s license to operator a motor vehicle on a state highway. Citing 541.302(5) a highway is defined as “the width between the boundary lines of a publicly maintained way any part of which is open to the public for vehicular travel.”
“Therefore a driver’s license is required to operate a motor vehicle on any public roadway,” according to the City of Rockport’s “What You Need to Know About Golf Carts and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles.”
The City of Bastrop requires permits to be issued for the operation of golf carts on its roadways. Part of that process requires the name, address and driver’s license number of the applicant/operator.
The City of Aransas Pass also requires a golf cart license, according to its ordinance, and “Provide valid insurance certificate consisted with state standards for motor vehicles. and “Provide valid driver license.”
The City of Buda, in a 2014 newsletter informing its citizenry of the new golf cart regulations, stated that “It is also a violation for a person to intentionally or knowingly allow an unlicensed person to operate a golf cart on a city street.”
Buda further states: “Occupants shall remain seated and be three years of age or older (or in appropriate car seat).”
Most recently, the City of Wimberley — where current Village Administrator Don Ferguson then served as City Manager — in 2016 added new safety regulations for the operation of golf carts within its boundaries.
Those requirements, according to a July 28, 2016 news article in the News-Dispatch (Hays County) by Bailey Buckingham are the following:
“– Have a valid driver’s license.
– Abide by all local and state traffic regulations.
– Use standard hand signals for turning during daylight.
– Not operate or park on sidewalks or hike/bike trails
– Not pull any object or person with golf cart/NEV
– Not exceed the seating capacity designed by the manufacturer
– Remain seated at all times. Passengers can be issued a citation for not remaining in seat while vehicle is moving.
– Not have or permit a passenger younger than 4-years-old.
– Maintain financial responsibility as required in the Texas Transporta- tion Code, Section 601.051 and
– Not intentionally or knowingly allow an unlicensed operator to oper- ate the vehicle in violation of this ordinance and state law.”