In some areas of Ohio, people prefer to use golf carts as a mode of transportation. In 2017, the state passed a law allowing golf carts to travel on roadways. However, owners must make them street legal and follow the rules of the road or face a misdemeanor charge.
Drivers of golf carts must follow the same laws as they would for driving a standard vehicle – they must have a valid driver's license and insurance, and be over 16 years of age to operate the golf cart.
Golf Cart Laws in Ohio
In 2017, Ohio law was passed that allows golf carts to travel city roadways, provided the roadway has an established speed limit of no more than 35 mph. The law does not prohibit the cart operator from traveling through an intersection with a speed limit of greater than 35 mph.
Owners who wish to drive on public roads must have their cart inspected by local law enforcement to comply with Department of Public Safety requirements. They must also register and title their golf car as they would any other vehicle. Golf cart drivers must be at least 16 years old and have a valid license and insurance.
Making a Golf Cart Street Legal
The Wood County Sheriff’s office gives an example of what is expected to make and keep a golf cart street legal. The office's deputies will inspect golf carts in its jurisdiction. The cart must have brake lights, headlights, a horn, license plate lights, a rearview mirror, tail lights, turn signals, a windshield, and it must not be capable of driving faster than 20 mph.
Every occupant must wear a seat belt, and children must be in child restraint seats. The operator must have a license to operate the cart and proof of insurance to show at the inspection, along with a vehicle identification number (VIN).
Wood County residents who need a golf cart inspection can make an appointment by calling the sheriff's office at 419-354-1246. Once a golf cart passes inspection, the owner can purchase a title and registration from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, as well as license plates to have a street-legal cart. Plates must be affixed to the cart's rear.
Penalties for Violating Golf Cart Laws
Ohio golf cart operators must follow the rules of the road just like other drivers. For example, insurance and DUI laws apply to golf cart drivers on public roadways. Whoever violates Ohio’s golf cart law faces a minor misdemeanor for their first infraction and a maximum $150 fine.
If, within a year of the offense, the individual has been previously convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, a predicate traffic or vehicle offense, they face a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge with penalties that include up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $250.
If, within a year of the offense, the individual has been previously convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, more than one predicate traffic or vehicle offense, they face a third-degree misdemeanor charge with penalties that include up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500.
- Criminal Defense Lawyer: Ohio Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences
- Wood County Sheriff: Golf Cart Inspections
- Press Publications: Be Aware of Ohio Laws Regarding Golf Cart Operation
- Ohio Law and Administrative Rules: Section 4511.214 Operation of Low-speed, Under-speed, or Utility vehicle, or a Mini-truck
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.