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.
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.”