Golf carts are a way of life in some Florida communities. They’re easy-to-operate, low-speed, agile, and perfect for traversing short distances when the weather is good. That said, it is absolutely possible for someone to get a Fort Lauderdale DUI on a golf cart if they are operating one while intoxicated. What’s more, Florida has become increasingly strict on golf cart operators in recent years, going so far as to raise the minimum age and license requirements in a law that just went into effect.
As our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers can explain, driving a golf cart under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances is just as illegal as if you were driving a car. F.S. 316.193 indicates that drivers shouldn’t operate “a vehicle” while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In another statute, F.S. 316.003(108), a “vehicle” is defined as every device in, upon, or by which a person or property can be transported or drawn upon a highway. That’s a broad definition, and it can include not just golf carts, but ATVs, bicycles, mopeds, and even riding lawn mowers.
In F.S. 320.01(22), golf carts are defined as a motor vehicle designed & manufactured for operation on golf courses and/or for sporting and recreational purposes. They aren’t typically made to go faster than 20 mph, and owners aren’t statutorily required to carry personal injury protection insurance or bodily injury liability insurance. Florida law limits golf cart operation to roads with a posted speed of 30 mph or less, though local government entities can pass more restrictive rules. Operators have to comply with whichever rule is more strict.
Just recently in South Florida, a 20-year-old was arrested by authorities in Monroe County for allegedly driving a stolen golf cart while intoxicated down the U.S. 1 highway. (The only time golf carts can be operated on part of the state highway system, per Florida law, is either it’s been designated by the DOT or local government as safe OR if to cross a portion that intersects with a county or city road or trailer park/golf course subdivision that allows golf carts.)
A new law was passed just this year to tighten the rules on golf cart operation.
HB 949 requires that golf cart drivers be at least 15 with a learner’s permit or 16 with a driver’s license. Anyone 18+ must have a valid, government-issued ID. This is a departure from earlier rules that said golf cart operators could be as young as 14 with no license. The law went into effect Oct. 1, with violators facing a non-criminal traffic violation for conviction.
A non-moving violation isn’t something you necessarily want to wind up with, but a Fort Lauderdale DUI arrest and conviction are much more serious prospects.
Although there’s no rule prohibiting adults from driving around on a golf cart at night, chances are if you do that police may presume you’ve been drinking. As a Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer can explain, reasonable suspicion (the basis needed to initiate a lawful traffic stop) requires more than just “a hunch.” Driving at night isn’t a crime. However, it could be part of the equation in an “objectively reasonable test” to establish reasonable suspicion.
If you’ve been arrested for golf cart DUI in Broward County, a private defense lawyer can work to minimize the impact of the charges, and possibly make a good case to have it reduced to a lesser offense – particularly if it’s your first offense and no one was hurt.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Low-Speed Vehicles, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
More Blog Entries:
Arrested for a Fatal Car Accident in Fort Lauderdale? Here’s What You May Be Facing. Sept. 15, 2023, Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Lawyer Blog