South Carolina

Drive a golf cart? 3 things you need to know before SC’s law changes this month

Drive a golf cart on the streets of South Carolina? Here is what you need to know

Do you drive a golf cart on the street in the Lowcountry? You could be breaking some South Carolina state laws and not even know it. Take a look at this quick video and make sure you're cruising legally.
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Do you drive a golf cart on the street in the Lowcountry? You could be breaking some South Carolina state laws and not even know it. Take a look at this quick video and make sure you're cruising legally.

Golf carts are a major part of life on Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County so even a slight change in South Carolina law will affect a lot of residents and tourists alike.

Less than two weeks from now, on Nov. 19, the newly amended law will include a penalties section that clarifies punishments for breaking laws specifically related to golf carts and other low-speed vehicles like mopeds.

Here are some things you need to know before you hit the pedal:

Violating any golf cart rule will now be a misdemeanor. That means breaking these rules are punishable by a fine up to $100 or up to 30 days in jail, unless the offense is deemed a felony in other parts of S.C. law. These punishments already existed in S.C. law, but it was in a section that didn’t apply directly to golf carts. This amendments provides a clearer guideline for issuing citations.

You can only drive a golf cart after dark in certain municipalities. For a time, S.C. law said it was illegal to drive a golf cart at night no matter what, but a bill passed a couple years ago allowed golf cart driving after sunset as long as local municipalities were on-board and the cart is equipped with front and rear lights. For example, local laws allow for night driving on Daufuskie Island but not in the Town of Bluffton.

Not just anyone can drive a golf cart around town. Before you cart around make sure you: Are at least 16 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, register the cart with the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, have proof of liability of insurance, display a state permit decal, stay within 4 miles of the address of the registration certificate, and only drive on roadways with a speed limit of 35 mph or less.

Golf carts can be dangerous, according to previous reporting from The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.

At least four fatal golf cart accidents have happened in the county in the last decade, including on Daufuskie in 2008, in Sun City Hilton Head in 2011 and 2013, and on Fripp Island in 2012.

In 2004, another man spent about a week in the critical care unit in the hospital and a year recuperating after he fell off a golf cart in Daufuskie.

In December 2017, a man was charged with a felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury after his alleged intoxicated, reckless driving sent a woman to the hospital with head and face injuries.

As recently as May, someone was thrown from a golf cart in Old Town Bluffton and had to be airlifted to the hospital for “severe head injuries.”

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