Understanding Golf Cart Laws in South Carolina

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You may not initially connect driving around in golf carts to potentially deadly accidents.  However, in the past few years, there were several instances where golf cart drivers have died in accidents in South Carolina alone.  On July 21, 2013, one person was killed in a hit-and-run crash after being rear-ended in a golf cart while driving back from a music event in Fountain Inn.  Most recently, on July 18, 2016, a golf cart driver was killed while turning in front of a tractor trailer in Florence County.  Other similar accidents often involve drivers or passengers being ejected from the cart and sustaining head injuries and bone fractures.  These incidents illustrate the potential dangers associated with driving golf carts.  If you own a golf cart or are considering buying one, there are some basics you should first understand regarding golf cart laws in South Carolina.

 

How Old Do You Have to Be to Drive a Golf Cart in South Carolina?

Generally speaking, golf cart laws are very similar to other motor vehicle laws.  Minors who do not have a license may not drive on either public or private roads.  In fact, you may be facing a fine of a few hundred dollars if a police officer pulls your child over on a golf cart.  More importantly, if your child gets into an accident, a court may hold you criminally liable for endangering your child or civilly liable under a “negligent entrustment” theory for allowing your child to drive.

Where and When Can I Drive My Golf Cart in South Carolina?

If you are an adult and are only going to drive your golf cart on private property, you do not need to obtain a permit to drive your golf cart.  In order to drive on secondary public roads, however, golf cart drivers must first get a permit from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  In order to obtain a permit, the driver will need to provide the DMV with proof of title, proof of insurance for the golf cart, a valid driver’s license, and a fee of five dollars. You will need to renew your permit every five years or every time you change your address.
Even if you obtain a permit, the permit only allows a driver to drive a golf cart during daylight hours on a secondary highway or street within four miles of the person’s registered residence.  Furthermore, you must stay within four miles of a point of ingress or egress to a gated community while driving.  It is important to look up your local ordinances regarding driving golf carts, as they may specifically ban driving on certain streets at certain times.  Specifically, in the City of Greenville, drivers cannot drive their golf carts on any street that has a speed limit over 35 mph.  Greenville also prohibits golf cart drivers from driving on any streets with highway numbers, including Stone Avenue (U.S. 276), Academy Street (U.S. 123), Woodruff Road (State 146), Pendleton Street (State 124), and Wade Hampton Boulevard and Church Street (U.S. 29).

What Should I Keep in My Golf Cart? 

Just like having a copy of your license, registration, and insurance policy is important at all times when driving your car, you should always have these same documents with you in your golf cart when you are driving as well.

Are There Laws Regarding Drinking and Driving in Golf Carts?

Yes.  If an officer pulls over a driver while they are drunk driving a golf cart, they will face charges just as if they were drunk driving another motor vehicle.  Again, check your local ordinances regarding drinking while driving.  In Greenville, golf cart drivers cannot drink alcohol over the legal limit or have an open container of alcohol while driving a golf cart.

Who Is Liable in a Golf Cart Accident?

Since the laws governing golf carts and other motor vehicles are similar, the theories under which an injured person may recover are also similar.  As noted above, an adult may be civilly liable for someone’s injuries if they negligently entrust a minor with driving a golf cart.
Similarly, a golf cart driver may be held liable for another person’s injuries if a court finds they are driving negligently.  To hold someone liable under a negligence claim, the injured party must prove that the driver owed you a duty of reasonable care to act as a prudent person would under the same or similar circumstances.  Second, the injured party must prove that the driver’s breach of that duty directly caused their injury.  If you are able to prevail on your negligence claim, you may be able to recover damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, property damage, physical disfigurement, and compensation for your medical bills.
Finally, a golf cart driver may be found liable if the accident was a result of their failure to adequately maintain their golf cart.  Specifically, a golf cart must have working headlights, tail lights, brakes, and blinkers.  You should regularly check the equipment on your golf cart, just as you would with your car, to ensure everything is working properly.

What Evidence Should I Gather To Build My Case?

If you are injured in a golf cart accident you will want to gather evidence regarding the circumstances of the evidence, just like you would after a car accident.  This means taking photos of the scene of the accident, taking notes immediately after the accident while your memory is fresh, and gathering accounts of the accident from nearby witnesses.  You may also consider retaining an accident reconstruction expert to inspect and recreate the accident in support of your claim.

Contact an Experienced Greenville Accident Lawyer Today!

If you or a loved one has been injured or has died in a golf cart accident, contact the dedicated Greenville personal injury lawyers at the law offices of David R. Price, Jr., P.A. today for a consultation.  Our experienced attorneys will help you evaluate the merits of your claim to improve the chance that you receive the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries.  Contact us today to get started with your accident claim.

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