NEIGHBORHOOD ELECTRIC VEHICLES (NEVs), LOW SPEED VEHICLES (LSVs), AND GOLF CARTS IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA
An NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) is a federally-approved street-legal vehicle classification which came into existence in 1998 under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 500 (FMVSS 500).
The vehicle classification is referred to as “low-speed vehicle” or “LSV” within Federal regulations.
In Federal regulations, LSVs are defined as a four-wheeled motor vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 3,000 pounds and a top speed of between 20 mph to 25 mph. In Florida, LSVs are restricted to public streets with a maximum speed limit of 35 mph. Because of federal law,dealers cannot legally sell the vehicles to go faster than 25 mph. Any vehicle modified to exceed 25 mph becomes subject to safety requirements of passenger cars.
Therefore, the operation of an LSV or NEV necessarily follows the same laws, requirements and conditions of a standard automobile.
In Florida and other states, there are specific LSV, NEV and golf cart laws and regulations governing the usage and construction of “street legal” golf carts, or low speed vehicles (LSV). Defined by Florida Statute 320.01(42) as “any four-wheeled electric vehicles whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour but not greater than 25 miles per hour,” low speed vehicles include NEV or neighborhoodelectric vehicles. Golf carts that are not considered LSVs are prohibited from operation on roads with a few exceptions detailed in s. 316.212. As with motor vehicles, low speed vehicles are subject to a license tax, which is the same as that prescribed in Florida Statute s. 320.08- for non-electrically powered vehicles.
There are several features required for LSV and NEV electric vehicles or street legal golf carts in Florida, including:
- Stop lamps, turn signal lamps, headlamps, tail lamps, parking brakes
- Rearview mirrors, reflex reflectors, windshields, seat belts, and VIN’s
- Must be registered and insured in accordance with current regulations (s. 320.02)
- The drivers of low speed vehicles must have valid driver’s licenses
Although Florida NEV and LSV electric vehicles are prohibited from operation on roads with posted speed limits above 35mph, they are allowed to cross roads that have higher speed limits.
In understanding the implications for a municipality considering the use of golf carts or low speed vehicles (LSV) on the city streets or county roads, one should consider that in Florida there are already State Statutes that allow the use of electric low speed vehicles or “street legal” golf carts.
Therefore, the local unit of government is not required to pass any extraordinary or enabling ordinances provisioning the use of an LSV.
The local unit of government may, however, wish to consider reducing the speed on certain streets to better facilitate the use of LSVs within the
community. Signage would be another issue the local unit of government may wish to employ to promote the safety and use of this low cost form of transportation within the municipality. In addition to operation and use, the State Statues even address the registration, licensing, and insurance requirements that are already in place. See the below summary:
316.2122 Operation of a low-speed vehicle on certain roadways.–The operation of a low-speed vehicle, as defined in s. 320.01(42), on any road as defined in s. 334.03(15) or (33), is authorized with the following restrictions:
- A low-speed vehicle may be operated only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. This does not prohibit a low-speed vehicle from crossing a road or street at an intersection where the road or street has a posted speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour.
- A low-speed vehicle must be equipped with headlamps, stop lamps, turn signal lamps, tail lamps, reflex reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, seat belts, and vehicle identification numbers.
- A low-speed vehicle must be registered and insured in accordance with s. 320.02.
- Any person operating a low-speed vehicle must have in his or her possession a valid driver’s license.
- A county or municipality may prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles on any road under its jurisdiction if the governing body of the county or municipality determines that such prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.
- The Department of Transportation may prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles on any road under its jurisdiction if it determines that such prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.
History.–s. 1, ch. 99-163.
320.01 Definitions, general.–As used in the Florida Statutes, except as otherwise provided, the term:
(22) “Golf cart” means a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 miles per hour.
(42) “Low-speed vehicle” means any four-wheeled electric vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour but not greater than 25 miles per hour, including neighborhood electric vehicles. Low- speed vehicles must comply with the safety standards in 49 C.F.R. s. 571.500 and s. 316.2122.
320.02 Registration required; application for registration; forms.–
1(1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, every owner or person in charge of a motor vehicle which is operated or driven on the roads of this state shall register the vehicle in this state. The owner or person in charge shall apply to the department or to its authorized agent for registration of each such vehicle on a form prescribed by the department. No registration is required for any motor vehicle which is not operated on the roads of this state during the registration period.
320.08001 Electric vehicles; license tax.–The license tax for an electric vehicle or low-speed vehicle is the same as that prescribed in s. 320.08 for a vehicle that is not electrically powered.
History.–s. 11, ch. 95-333; s. 3, ch. 99-163.
Please note that the operation of a (standard) “golf cart” upon public roads is illegal in the State of Florida. However, if a local unit of government should chose to lower the National and State standards established for the manufacture, performance, and safety and allow “golf carts” access topublicly-owned roadways, then specific issues would necessarily have to be addressed and local ordinances would have to be implemented by the local unit of government to provision the use of “golf carts” on its streets. See the summary below regarding this option:
316.212 Operation of golf carts on certain roadways.–The operation of a golf cart upon the public roads or streets of this state is prohibited except as provided herein:
- A golf cart may be operated only upon a county road that has been designated by a county, or a unicipal street that has been designated by a municipality, for use by golf carts. Prior to making such a designation, the responsible local governmental entity must first determine that golf carts may safely travel on or cross the public road or street, considering factors including the speed, volume, andcharacter of motor vehicle traffic using the road or street. Upon a determination that golf carts may be safely operated on a designated road or street, the responsible governmental entity shall post appropriate signs to indicate that such operation is allowed.
- A golf cart may be operated on a part of the State Highway System only under the following
- To cross a portion of the State Highway System which intersects a county road or municipal street that has been designated for use by golf carts if the Department of Transportation has reviewed and approved the location and design of the crossing and any traffic control devices needed for safety purposes.
- To cross, at midblock, a part of the State Highway System where a golf course is constructed on both sides of the highway if the Department of Transportation has reviewed and approved the location and design of the crossing and any traffic control devices needed for safety purposes.
- A golf cart may be operated on a state road that has been designated for transfer to a local government unit pursuant to s. 335.0415 if the Department of Transportation determines that the operation of a golf cart within the right-of-way of the road will not impede the safe and efficient flow of motor vehicular traffic. The department may authorize the operation of golf carts on such a road if:
- The road is the only available public road along which golf carts may travel or cross or the road provides the safest travel route among alternative routes available; and
- The speed, volume, and character of motor vehicular traffic using the road is considered in making such a determination.
- Upon its determination that golf carts may be operated on a given road, the department shall post appropriate signs on the road to indicate that such operation is allowed.
- Any other provision of this section to the contrary notwithstanding, a golf cart may be operated for the purpose of crossing a street or highway where a single mobile home park is located on both sides of the street or highway and is divided by that street or highway, provided that the governmental entity having original jurisdiction over such street or highway shall review and approve the location of the crossing and require implementation of any traffic controls needed for safety purposes. This subsection shall apply only to residents or guests of the mobile home park. Any other provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, if notice is posted at the entrance and exit to any mobile home park that residents of the park utilize golf carts or electric vehicles within the confines of the park it shall not be necessary that the park have a gate or other device at the entrance and exit in order for such golf carts or electric vehicles to be lawfully operated in the park.
- A golf cart may be operated only during the hours between sunrise and sunset, unless the responsible governmental entity has determined that a golf cart may be operated during the hours between sunset and sunrise and the golf cart is equipped with headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and a windshield.
- A golf cart must be equipped with efficient brakes, reliable steering apparatus, safe tires, a rearview mirror, and red reflectorized warning devices in both the front and rear.
- A golf cart may not be operated on public roads or streets by any person under the age of 14.
- A local governmental entity may enact an ordinance regarding golf cart operation and equipment which is more restrictive than those enumerated in this section. Upon enactment of any such ordinance, the local governmental entity shall post appropriate signs or otherwise inform the residents that such an ordinance exists and that it shall be enforced within the local government’s jurisdictionalterritory. An ordinance referred to in this section must apply only to an unlicensed driver.
- A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable pursuant to chapter 318 as a moving violation for infractions of subsection (1), subsection (2), subsection (3), subsection (4), or a local ordinance corresponding thereto and enacted pursuant to subsection (7), or punishable pursuant to chapter 318 as a nonmoving violation for infractions of subsection (5), subsection (6), or a local ordinance corresponding thereto and enacted pursuant to subsection (7).
History.–s. 2, ch. 83-188; s. 1, ch. 84-111; s. 2, ch. 88-253; s. 322, ch. 95-148; s. 4, ch. 96-413; s. 168, ch. 99-248; s. 7, ch. 2000-313; s. 6, ch. 2005-164.
There continues to be much misunderstanding of the legal use of standard “golf carts” as a means of personaltransportation on public roadways in the State of Florida. This commentary addresses some of the Florida statutes governing the use of “street legal” golf carts (low speed vehicles) and “regular” golf carts on public roads. Although this discussion is by no means comprehensive, these Florida Statues are applicable to the vehicles we sell at the Electric Cart Company (ECC).
The Electric Cart Company is a licensed franchise motor vehicle dealer of new and used motor vehicles, as required by the State to be able to sell NEVs and LSVs to the Public. ECC also sells standard golf carts, as well.
Please note that ECC is not engaged in the practice of law and is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the interpretation of these statutes. If you have questions, we will try our best to answer them if you wish to stop by the dealership.
4552 US Hwy 98 West, # 16
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32550
850-622-2000 P | 850-622-2004 F
2012 Florida Statutes TITLE XXIII — MOTOR VEHICLES Chapter 316 — STATE UNIFORM TRAFFIC CONTROL 316.2126 — Authorized use of golf carts, low-speed vehicles, and utility vehicles.
Universal Citation: FL Stat § 316.2126 (2012 through 2nd Reg Sess)
Authorized use of golf carts, low-speed vehicles, and utility vehicles.— 316.2126
- In addition to the powers granted by ss. 316.212 and 316.2125, municipalities are authorized to use golf carts and utility vehicles, as defined in s. 320.01, upon any state, county, or municipal roads located within the corporate limits of such municipalities, subject to the following conditions:
Golf carts and utility vehicles must
- comply with the operational and safety requirements in ss. 316.212 and 316.2125, and with any more restrictive ordinances enacted by the local governmental entity pursuant to s. 316.212(8), and shall be operated only by municipal employees for municipal purposes, including, but not limited to, police patrol, traffic enforcement, and inspection of public facilities.
In addition to the safety equipment required in
- s. 316.212(6) and any more restrictive safety equipment required by the local governmental entity pursuant to s. 316.212(8), such golf carts and utility vehicles must be equipped with sufficient lighting and turn signal equipment.
Golf carts and utility vehicles may be
- operated only on state roads that have a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less.
Golf carts and utility vehicles may cross a
- portion of the State Highway System which has a posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour or less only at an intersection with an official traffic control device.
Golf carts and utility vehicles may operate
- on sidewalks adjacent to state highways only if such golf carts and utility vehicles yield to pedestrians and if the sidewalks are at least 5 feet wide.
- State employees, state park volunteers, and state park visitors are authorized to use golf carts and utility vehicles, as defined in s. 320.01, upon any public roads within the boundaries of state parks managed by the Division of Recreation and Parks of the Department of Environmental Protection, subject to the following conditions:
- Golf carts and utility vehicles must comply with the operational and safety requirements in s. 316.212.
- Golf carts and utility vehicles shall be operated only by state employees and state park volunteers for state purposes and by state park visitors for uses authorized by the Division of Recreation and Parks of the Department of Environmental Protection.
- As used in this subsection, the term:
- Golf cart means a motor vehicle as defined in s. 320.01(22), including vehicles modified to have a cargo platform or bin to transport parcels or a hitch to tow a trailer.Residential area means areas zoned primarily or exclusively for single-family or multifamily residential use. Seasonal delivery personnel means employees of a licensed commercial delivery service that has at least 10,000 persons employed in this state.Seasonal delivery personnel may use the
- following vehicles solely for the purpose of delivering express envelopes and packages having a maximum size of 130 inches for the combined length and girth and weighing not more than 150 pounds from midnight October 15 until midnight December 31 of each year:
- Low-speed vehicles and utility vehicles as defined in s. 320.01 upon any public road within a residential area that has a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less.
- Golf carts upon a public road within a residential area that has a posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less.
- Golf carts upon a public road within a residential area that has a posted speed limit of 30 to 35 miles per hour, unless a municipality having jurisdiction over the public road has enacted an ordinance restricting personnel from driving on such roads.
- Seasonal delivery personnel may pull a trailer from any of these vehicles.
- All vehicles specified in this subsection must be:
- Marked in a conspicuous manner with the name of the delivery service. 1.
- Equipped with, at a minimum, the equipment required under s. 316.212(6). 2.
- Equipped with head lamps and tail lamps, in addition to the safety requirements in s. 316.212(6), if operated after sunset.
- Anyone operating a golf cart, low-speed vehicle, or utility vehicle pursuant to this section must possess a valid driver s license as required by s. 322.03.
- History.—s. 5, ch. 96-413; s. 90, ch. 99-13; s. 4, ch. 99-163; s. 169, ch. 99-248; s. 7, ch. 2005-164; s. 5, ch. 2008-98; s. 1, ch. 2009-208; s. 8, ch. 2012-181.