SC golf cart rules to change, pun­ish­ments made more clear

The Island Packet - - Front Page - BY LANA FER­GU­SON lfer­gu­son@is­land­packet.com

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 such as 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 amend­ment 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 of years ago al­lowed golf cart driv­ing af­ter sun­set as long as lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were on­board 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 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 past 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.”

STAFF PHOTO File

Bob Sut­ter, of Low­coun­try Golf Cars, shows a golf cart equipped with head­lights at the Okatie deal­er­ship.

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