Golf Carts: DUIs, Personal Injuries, What You Need to Know:
Golf carts are a familiar sight in the lowcountry. In the summertime they are a great way to haul the kids to the neighborhood pool. They offer a better fuel economy than your typical car and they are a breeze to park. Golf carts can be a lot of fun, but just like cars they are governed by statutes and regulations.
In South Carolina golf carts driven on public property must be registered and require a permit decal. Permits can be obtained at your local South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle branch and must be replaced every five years or upon a change of address. You will need:
A completed registration form (SCDMV FormGC-2);
Proof the golf cart is insured;
A valid driver’s license;
Payment for $5 registration fee.
Once your golf cart is registered, State law dictates where and when you can take your cart for a drive. Violators are subject to a fine and up to thirty days in jail. South Carolina Code requires golf carts be operated in the following way:
On a secondary street or highway where the speed limit is thirty-five miles an hour or less;
During daylight hours only;
Within four miles of the address on the registration. If you live in a gated community that four-mile radius begins at the entry and exit points of the community;
By a person with a valid driver’s license over the age of sixteen.
While driving a golf cart you are required to carry proof of liability insurance, your driver’s license, and the DMV registration. Keep in mind that local ordinances can govern the use of your golf cart too. For example, certain subdivisions may limit the area of operation to as little as two miles from the registered address. An individual county or city can have an ordinance prohibiting golf carts altogether. In the City of Folly Beach, it is a misdemeanor and a $25 fine for driving a golf cart in inclement weather that would necessitate the use of windshield wipers.
Although golf carts typically max out at 15 mph and might seem like the safer option to drive to the neighborhood pub, you can still be arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence. It is also illegal to have an open container of alcohol while driving your golf cart. Driving your golf cart impaired is dangerous and could result in stiff fines, jail time, or worse. If you have been charged with a DUI or other crime while operating your golf cart, you will still need representation as you would if you had been driving your car. It is important to contact a criminal defense attorney right away.
Injuries and Liability
If you are involved in a golf cart accident it is important to call the police even if there are no obvious injuries. Just like with a car accident, injuries might become apparent later and a police report is crucial to document the circumstances in which the accident occurred. Likewise, if you’re able to it is a good idea to photograph the scene.
When a golf cart accident does result in injuries, whether it is on the golf course or on the road, there is always the question of liability. If a passenger takes a tumble from a golf cart it might appear to be the fault of a negligent driver. However, liability becomes more convoluted if for example there was alcohol involved or the passenger had their feet up on the dash. If a child under the age of sixteen operates a golf cart and causes injuries or damages, that child’s parents can be held liable.
During a Christmas party in 2004 a catering employee was killed in Berkeley County when the golf cart he was driving was struck by an SUV. The accident occurred around 8:30pm when the employee attempted to cross a public road. A lawsuit was filed on his behalf against the party’s hosts and the companies that manufactured and distributed the golf cart. However, the South Carolina Court of Appeals found for the Defendants. The Court explained that because it is illegal in South Carolina to drive a golf cart at night and doing so creates an obvious risk the driver was not free from liability.
While determining liability may seem straight forward there are a litany of factors involved such as who owns the golf cart, who was driving the golf cart, and the circumstances surrounding the accident. If you are injured in a golf cart accident you may be entitled to compensation. A personal injury attorney can help you determine liability and if you have a case for negligence. Furthermore, an experienced attorney will aid you in gathering evidence, taking police and witness statements, and dealing with insurance companies and doctors so you can focus on your recovery.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a golf cart accident or has been charged with a crime while operating one give us a call today. We offer free consultations and if we cannot help you, we will put you in touch with someone who can.