An individual can get a DUI (driving under the influence) while driving a golf cart in Florida. The driver does not have to be of legal drinking age to be convicted of a DUI. A regular golf cart can be driven by a person over the age of 14 on a public road or on private property where allowed if the posted speed limit is under 25 mph. A driver can be convicted of a DUI while operating the golf cart on a golf course, a trail, a gravel or dirt path, or a road. A standard DUI requires that a driver have a blood alcohol level (BAL) of 0.08 percent or above.
First Offense Florida DUI
The penalties for a first DUI in Florida include jail time up to six months, a fine between $500 and $1,000, driver’s license revocation of between 180 days and one year, and the requirement to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to six months. Additional penalties include unsupervised probation for up to one year, completion of community service hours, the requirement to finish a Level I Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (FDHSMV) approved DUI school and the requirement to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and complete any recommended treatment.
The penalties are increased to nine months in jail and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000 if the driver’s blood, breath or urine alcohol level was 0.15 percent or higher or there was a minor passenger in the vehicle. A court can sentence an offender to confinement in a residential alcohol or drug abuse treatment program. Time in the program is credited toward a term of imprisonment.
IIDs and Golf Carts
It is possible to place an ignition interlock device on a golf cart. This is because any vehicle with a constant power supply and starter can have an IID installed into its system. An offender should put an IID on their golf cart if they plan to operate it after they are arrested for DUI. The offender may also need to install an IID on any other type of vehicle they plan to drive.
Second Offense DUI Penalties in Florida
A driver who commits a second Florida DUI can be penalized with jail time for up to nine months, a fine between $1,000 and $2,000, driver’s license revocation of up to five years and the requirement to install an IID for at least one year. The driver may also be required to serve unsupervised probation for up to one year, complete hours of community service, finish a Level II FLHSMV-approved school, undergo a substance abuse evaluation and complete any recommended treatment.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the penalties for a second DUI increase to one-year maximum incarceration, a fine between $2,000 and $4,000, and the requirement to install an IID for a minimum of two years if the defendant’s BAL was 0.15 percent or higher or there was a minor in the vehicle. If a driver is convicted of a second DUI within five years of a first DUI, the court is required to sentence the driver to mandatory imprisonment for at least 10 days. At least 48 hours of the confinement must be consecutive.
When a Driver Is Under 21
If a driver is between the ages of 15 and 18, a golf cart DUI is a matter for delinquency court – a type of civil court that hears juvenile cases. If the driver is between the ages of 18 and 20, the case is heard in criminal court if their BAL is 0.08 percent or above. If the driver is between the ages of 18 and 20 and their BAL is above 0.02 percent, but below 0.08 percent, they will be penalized with an administrative suspension.
An underage DUI is not a criminal offense. A first administrative suspension carries a penalty of a driver’s license suspension for six months. A second or subsequent suspension carries a penalty of a driver’s license suspension for one year. A first suspension for refusal to submit to a breath, urine or blood test is one year.
A second or subsequent suspension for refusal is 18 months. For a person under 21, if the breath or BAL is 0.05 percent or higher, the driver’s license suspension remains in effect until the individual has completed a substance abuse evaluation and course.
Does a Golf Cart DUI Count as a Prior DUI?
A golf cart DUI counts as a prior DUI in Florida. A golf cart DUI also counts as a prior DUI in any state that interprets the term vehicle to include golf carts. Nevada is an example of another state where a golf cart counts as a vehicle, according to Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 484C.
Golf Cart DUI Charges
An individual charged with golf cart DUI can also be charged with careless driving, in violation of Florida Statutes Section 316.1925. Careless driving is a moving violation, not a criminal offense. The penalty includes a fine that varies between $160 and $500.
Further, the individual can be charged with property damage, also called criminal mischief, in violation of Florida Statute Section 806.13. Criminal mischief is a criminal offense that can be penalized with jail time and a fine. Whether the act of criminal mischief is considered a misdemeanor or a felony depends on what the individual has damaged and the value of the damaged property.
An individual committing a golf cart DUI can cause property damage by crashing into trees, other golf carts, pedestrians and shade structures on golf courses. When an individual commits a golf cart DUI, the owner of the golf course can ban the person from entering the course and associated properties, like a clubhouse or restaurant. The owner can also demand restitution for any damage the individual has caused, either through the criminal case or in a civil case.
Rules for Operating a Golf Cart in Florida
An operator of a golf cart must obey the same traffic laws as the driver of a regular car, truck or SUV. They must stop at stop signs, signal when turning and stay within the speed limit of the road or golf course. Generally, they are not allowed to travel over 20 mph. According to the FLHSMV, a golf cart is a low-speed vehicle that can be operated only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less. A golf course may require drivers of golf carts to drive only in designated areas.
Additional Restrictions for Golf Carts
A golf cart should not be operated on sidewalks or on a Florida freeway like I-75. A golf cart should be operated only between the hours of sunrise and sunset, unless the local government authorizes night driving. For night driving, a golf cart must have functioning headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals and a windshield.
- Florida Statutes 2019: Section 316.193 Driving Under the Influence; Penalties
- Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: Florida DUI and Administrative Suspension Laws
- Florida Statutes 2019: Section 316.1925 Careless Driving
- Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: Licensed DUI Programs in Florida
- Nevada Revised Statutes: Chapter 484C Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or a Prohibited Substance
- Florida Statutes 2019: Section 806.13 Arson and Criminal Mischief
- Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: Low Speed and All-Terrain Vehicles
- Florida Statutes 2019: Section 316.212 Operation of Golf Carts on Certain Roadways
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.