Alabama Golf Cart Laws

can you store a golf cart outside

General note: Depending on your local city or municipality’s rules, not every golf cart is street legal (LSV) even if it has the proper safety equipment and is “road ready.” This equipment includes headlights, tail lights, turn signals, seat belts, mirror, and reflector. Other requirements might include license and registration and placing a physical tag on the vehicle. Please reference applicable local ordinances before heading out into the neighborhood in your golf cart.

It can be tempting to take your newly purchased golf cart out for a spin around the neighborhood. Carts offer both comfort and convenience, which is why they’ve become more popular in recent years.

However, if you head out onto a public roadway without knowing the golf cart laws in your area, you may get a ticket or worse—injured. Laws are there for a reason.

Since our shop is based in Alabama, we’ll be focusing on pertinent Alabama golf cart laws.

What Is the Legal Definition of a Golf Cart?

Typically, a golf cart is classified as a motor vehicle designed for use on golf courses. But is a golf course the only place where you can drive your golf cart? No, of course not!

Private property doesn’t abide by the same rules and regulations as public roads. As such, you can drive your golf cart on your own private property. Many people keep around carts for use when vacationing and often drive them on their own land.

Some communities are also golf cart friendly. Golf carts make it a lot easier for people to get around the community or make use of amenities. In those instances, the use of a golf cart falls under the community’s own rules and regulations.

You may have noticed we haven’t mentioned driving on public roads or around the neighborhood. There’s a reason for that.

Can You Drive a Golf Cart on Public Roads in Alabama?

It’s illegal to drive unmodified golf carts on public roads in Alabama without certain modifications (more details below). Standard golf carts don’t meet the speed and safety requirements for driving on public roadways.

These requirements were put in place to protect drivers (both golf carts and automobiles) from accidents and liabilities. Even a small fender bender can put you in danger if you’re in a golf cart.

With this in mind, Alabama requires certain upgrades that make golf carts safer to drive and make them less of a liability on a public road. 

Furthermore, recent legislation by the state has kicked the issue to local cities and municipalities, giving them authority and oversight on how they want to handle the issue of street legal (LSV) golf carts. For instance, smaller cities may require only safety equipment and for the local police department to inspect and badge the vehicle. Larger cities, however, may require full tagging and registration of the golf cart, along with safety equipment. It’s crucial to know your municipalities’s rules and regulations on the subject and ensure your vehicle is in full compliance with them.

What Does a Golf Cart Need to be Street Legal in Alabama?

In order to be street legal in Alabama, your golf cart needs to meet certain requirements. These have to do with speed, safety, visibility, and ability to control the vehicle on public roads.

In other words, you need to transform your golf cart into a low-speed vehicle if you want to take it out on streets or roadways. Here’s what you need:

Speed

To classify your golf cart as a low-speed vehicle in Alabama, it needs to reach a minimum speed of 20 mph and a maximum speed of 25 mph (which is also the speed limit in residential areas). The reason for this is you need to be able to match the speed of other vehicles on the road.

The problem? Most golf carts have a top speed of no more than 20 mph. However, when there’s a will, there’s a way. The good news is you can upgrade your golf cart’s top speed to meet these requirements.

If it’s an electric golf cart with sufficient power (meaning at least a 48V), you can upgrade the top speed with a bit of software tinkering and tire change. We don’t recommend trying this on a 36V cart, though.

Gas golf carts are harder to upgrade. You can still change the tires, but there’s no software to speak of. It’s possible to tinker with the governor and squeeze in a few more miles per hour, but this is tricky (and risky) if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Safety

To drive your golf cart on the road, you need some essential upgrades. The regulations are quite clear; here are the necessary safety features:

  • Headlamps, tail lamps, and stop lamps
  • Front and rear turn signals
  • Brake lights
  • Red reflex reflectors on both sides and the rear
  • A side view mirrors on the driver’s side and the passenger side, and an internal rear view mirror
  • A parking brake
  • A windshield that conforms to the federal standard for glazing materials
  • A seat belt meeting federal standards at each designated seating position

As you can imagine, most golf carts come equipped with all of these features out of the box, so you’ll need some aftermarket upgrades. However, if you want to be street legal (more accurately road ready), you need to meet each of these requirements. No exceptions.

Documentation

So, you’ve done the leg work and you’ve either upgraded your cart to meet all requirements or you’ve bought a street legal (road ready) cart and saved yourself the hassle. Either way, you have a street legal cart in your garage and you’re itching to take it out for a spin. You can, right?

Sorry to disappoint, but you’re (likely) not done yet. Because your golf cart is now treated as any other vehicle on the road, you need to register it with the DMV and get a vehicle identification number that conforms to federal standards and Alabama state law (if your municipality requires it).

You also need liability insurance, as well as being over the age of 18 and having a driver’s license. You need to have your documents with you at all times when on the road so you can prove you’re a licensed driver. An unlicensed driver will get a ticket.

Low-Speed Vehicle Regulations in Alabama

If you’ve done all of the above, now you’re ready to hit the road. You need to keep in mind that your cart is now an LSV and must adhere to all the local low-speed vehicles rules and regulations.

This means you can still get a speeding ticket with a golf cart. We know it sounds crazy, but speed limits in school zones are 15 mph, which you can exceed with your street legal golf cart.

Needless to say, you should stop at stop signs, yield right of way, stop at traffic lights and, all in all, drive as you normally would. You can get arrested if you’re caught driving under the influence.

Also, don’t try to circumvent traffic laws and use the sidewalks to get around traffic. That’s against LSV laws and can land you into a heap of trouble.

If you have an underage child, make it clear to them that the cart is not a toy. If they illegally operate the vehicle, they can cause a serious accident—creating a circumstance where you are liable for damages and fined (in the best case scenario).

Additionally, it’s important to follow safety protocols. Don’t try to fit more people into your cart than the seatbelts will allow. That’s illegal—not to mention extremely dangerous. There’s a limit to the public roads you can use too. You can only drive on an Alabama roadway with a speed limit of 25 mph or lower. This means residential areas and designated roadways.

Finally, there may be additional laws, rules, and regulations in your particular area or for your city or municipality. It’s always good to check with local authorities for more information concerning these.

Diamond Golf Cars offers high-quality golf carts from major manufacturers, including Club Car, E-Z-GO, and Yamaha. With these brands, you can rest assured your vehicle will last and parts (if service is needed) will always be available. These major brands have been around for 50 to 60 years and are first-class in a number of areas: handling, brakes, components, parts, and more. E-Z-GO and Club Car hold themselves to strict standards which go far beyond the mandated federal regulations for vehicle parts. Stop by our shop or contact us for more info before purchasing.