How To Make A Golf Cart Street Legal
Have you ever been traveling along a road only to a see a golf cart along the side of it as well?
You may have thought, “I wonder if that is legal to drive that on the side of the road?”
Actually, these are golf carts that have added features and additions that have made them a term deemed “Street Legal”
Let’s take a look at all the requirements to make a golf cart street legal.
What makes a golf cart street legal?
If you’re interested in making your golf cart a road vehicle, you need to make quite a few modifications to ensure that your cart is safe.
These modifications may cost several hundreds of dollars to implement but can ensure that you and others are protected while you drive your cart on a public road.
Just as importantly, these upgrades will ensure that your cart is legal to ride on the road and will minimize any legal issues.
For example, if you try to ride a golf cart on the road without performing these simple upgrades, you’ll find that you’re likely to get pulled over very quickly.
Most legal professionals know how to spot carts that aren’t street-ready and will take you to task for this lack of preparation.
Before you take a golf cart on the road, you need to make sure that it has a multitude of lights to keep it safe while you drive at night.
These lights include headlights, brake lights, taillights, and turn signals.
In essence, you are turning your cart into a small standard vehicle and need to have all of these lights that these vehicles possess.
And while you don’t need to have your headlights on during the day, like when you drive a standard vehicle, daytime lights are a good idea because you can ensure that people spot you long before they see the vehicle itself.
This safety precaution is standard in other types of vehicles and can help ensure that you are protected from drivers who may not notice your cart right away but who do see your lights.
Fog lights may also be a good idea for drivers who plan on hitting the road often in their cart.
Just as importantly, you need to make sure that all of your lights are properly connected to ensure that they operate correctly.
For example, you need a switch for your headlights and a power gauge to ensure that you can flip it from dim to bright.
You also need to attach your turn signals to your cart’s steering wheel to activate at the proper time.
And brake lights must be connected to your brakes and go on when you apply even the slightest pressure to the surface of the brake.
DOT Approved Items
The Department of Transportation or DOT requires that all street vehicles have certain approved items.
The same is true of a golf cart, which must have approved tires, windshields, windshield wipers, and seatbelts to operate on a road.
All of these items must be either produced by the DOT for this use or must be approved by them before you install any item on your cart.
Without these elements, your cart is not street legal, and you could suffer a severe fine if you don’t update your cart immediately.
Talk to your local DOT officials to figure out how you need to upgrade these items on your cart.
They can direct you to a dealer who sells these items or may even have some that they can offer you in their shop.
Though this isn’t that likely, there is a chance that you could find some while you’re visiting them.
Just as importantly, you need to make sure that these devices are correctly installed on your vehicle to ensure that it runs properly.
Talk to a nearby mechanic to learn more about this process or reach out to a friend who can help you.
Only install these items on your golf cart if you feel very comfortable with this process.
If you have any fear of adding these items onto a golf cart, then you should talk to a professional to ensure that you don’t make any mistakes during installation.
Proper Minimum Top Speed
A standard golf cart typically isn’t powerful enough to compete with other forms of road traffic.
As a result, you need to upgrade your engine to ensure that it has a minimum speed of between 20 and 25 miles per hour.
You need to have this as your minimum speed because golf carts often drive much lower with an upgrade and can be dangerous if you don’t take the time to improve their speed.
The top speed of most golf carts is typically around 45 miles per hour, which makes them just fast enough to ride on most roads.
Again, you should talk to your state officials to figure out what else you need to do in this situation.
Most will suggest various engine upgrades that you can utilize to improve the speed of your cart.
You may also want to upgrade multiple elements, such as adding bigger tires and lower-weight items, to ensure that your cart is faster and safer while on the road.
Try to avoid making the top speed any higher than 45 miles per hour, though, or you may run into some troubles.
While it is more than possible to get a golf cart to travel faster than this rate, any higher is a potential danger.
For example, a crash at 60 miles per hour in a golf cart is going to go very poorly for you, even if you have seatbelts.
Your cart is likely to break apart, and you may end up flying through the air and suffering from an extraordinary range of health issues when you land.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
A vehicle identification number or VIN is a 17-digit number that makes your cart easier to identify.
While all carts will have a serial number, only street-legal cars need a VIN. You need to talk to your local DOT officials to get a VIN for your cart.
This number is used for a variety of purposes, including tracking your vehicle properly and gauging how it is used by you and others.
This number will be assigned to you after you register your cart and show the officials that it is ready to ride on the street.
As a result, you’ll typically get this number last when getting your cart prepared to drive on the road.
Once you have a VIN set on your golf cart, the number will stay the same for the cart’s life.
Therefore, your cart will be easier to track, and you’ll also be able to learn more about other carts if you want to buy one for yourself.
For example, if you see a street-ready golf cart on the used market and you are interested in purchasing it, you can have the DOT in your state run the VIN to understand its history.
If the cart has suffered from accidents or other issues, the VIN will let you know.
So make sure that you keep your cart in good shape or you run the risk of having accidents and other issues held against you and your VIN.
Like all road-ready vehicles, your street-legal golf cart needs several mounted mirrors.
These reflective devices give you an idea of who is driving around you and make it easier for you to protect yourself and others from severe accidents while you drive.
For example, you’ll need an interior mirror that you can check to see who is driving directly behind you.
You’ll also need mounted exterior mirrors that can gauge who is on your sides.
These mirrors help to track your blind spots if adequately adjusted.
Although blind spots may not be quite as obvious on golf carts, they can be an issue if you don’t drive properly.
Mirrors also let your insurance company know that your cart is protected from damage.
This benefit is significant because you’ll need to put insurance on your cart before you hit the road.
Most types of cart insurance will give you a better deal if you take the time to add extra safety elements to their exterior, such as mirrors and other items.
When you’re a street-legal cart, you need to make sure that you’re gauging your speed at all times.
The only way to do this is with a DOT-approved speedometer.
These items are installed directly to your dash and attach to your wheel axle to gauge your speed.
The speedometer can also ensure that you follow all safety rules and speed regulations when you’re on the road with your cart.
While there are many speedometer models available on the market, make sure that you talk to your DOT officials to find one that is suitable for your vehicle.
Typically, they’ll have a few models in mind that you can easily use for your golf cart.
You should then buy a speedometer and get a professional to install one on your cart in an area that is not only easy to see but which is protected from weathering elements.
A horn is an important safety tool that helps you alert people to your presence while on the road.
All road-ready vehicles need a high-quality horn, and your cart is no different.
The horn can be installed directly on the steering wheel or near your hands.
A good cart horn should be within easy reach of you at all times and must be very easy to operate to avoid any issues while you drive.
The volume of the horn needs to be high enough to be heard in most traffic situations.
As a result, you’ll need to talk to a mechanic about this addition to your cart to find one that works on your cart.
Most car horns should easily fit on your cart. Some horns might even fit underneath of your cart’s hood and create a very loud and resonant honk when you push the proper button.
Reflex reflectors will bounce back headlights to drivers around you and make your cart easier to see.
These items are not necessary on other types of standard vehicles but only on slow-moving carts.
For example, horse-drawn carriages often use these items to keep the driver safe.
These reflectors need to be positioned on every corner of the cart to make them easier to see.
And, just as importantly, you need a lighted license plate bracket on the back of your cart.
This bracket also makes your cart easier to see and provides extra lighting that keeps you safe.
Proper Registration and Licensing
When you buy a golf cart and use it for the road, you need to make sure that you register it properly and get licenses.
These licenses include a license plate for the cart and a general driver’s permit.
If you already have a license for driving, you don’t need a specialized one to handle a golf cart on the road.
However, a road-ready golf cart does need an individual license plate.
This plate is individual to the cart and needs to be upgraded regularly like with your normal car.
For example, you need to add a new license tag to your license every year to ensure that it remains updated and legal to drive.