Bill passes allowing Madison to govern use of golf carts on streets
The city of Madison can now determine the use of golf carts on city streets with the passage of House Bill 1754.
After years of trying to obtain local and private legislation, the bill will allow the city to dictate the laws and use of driving golf carts within city limits and only in subdivisions.
“It’s a local and private bill, so they always take the longest,” said District 25 Sen. Walter Michel. The language of the bill only pertains to neighborhood streets. They will not be allowed on thoroughfares or major streets or highways.
According to Michel, the city will determine whether and what safety equipment, such as turn signals and headlights, to require.
He added the city has yet to decide whether drivers will be required to carry a license and/or insurance while driving golf carts in subdivisions.
In past years, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and District 73 Rep. Cory Wilson worked with Michel and Madison to pass the legislation. Last year, the bill died in committee. “The bill just came late (last year).”
Michel had met with Northbay property owners to get their input on legalizing the use of golf carts in the Northbay subdivision and other Madison neighborhoods.
Michel, Gunn and Wilson also met with the Reunion homeowner’s association board.
This year, Michel said he and other legislators worked hard to get a bill that could be introduced to both the House and Senate with verbatim language. “And before this session began, all three of us met with Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler to discuss the bill.”
ACCORDING TO Ken Wilbanks, in Madison community development, the city supports legalizing golf carts because so many residents use them.
“Many of our residents own and utilize golf carts in their respective subdivisions, and not just in our golf course communities,” he said in a previous Sun article.
“Under current state law, residents wanting to drive their golf carts to visit neighbors or their subdivision pool, tennis courts, etc., cannot do so legally. Golf carts are not street legal under current state law.”
However, many residents still drive golf carts within subdivisions.
Often, no action is taken if the driver looks to be of age and is not driving carelessly or on a non-residential street.
“If it is an adult driver and they are conducting themselves safely and in an orderly manner, usually nothing is done,” said Wilbanks.
Currently, underage-looking drivers are stopped by police. “If there is a question as to if there is an underage driver and there is an issue, [they] are usually stopped by an officer. If the driver is proven to be underage, the parents are contacted to come get them,” explained Wilbanks.
In 2012, the state passed a bill giving city officials of Diamondhead the authority to control golf cart usage on streets.