ST. GEORGE — Driving a golf cart down certain streets may become legal in St. George following a discussion had by the City Council during a work meeting Thursday.

In this file photo, FootGolfers take off in carts to start in the Utah FootGolf tournament, St. George, Utah, July 26, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The most recent discussion was a follow-up from last October when the St. George Police Department approached the council with a request to create a specific golf cart-related ordinance. The plea stemmed from incidents involving children recklessly driving golf carts.

“For the last couple of years there really hasn’t been a penalty or any way for us to address these kids who have been driving golf carts recklessly, namely down in the Little Valley area,” St. George Police Sgt. Jeremy Needles previously told St. George News.

From incidents of children on golf carts blowing through stop signs and packing the vehicles with too many passengers, Needles said many of those kids tend to be under 12 years old. While some incidents involving kids and golf carts have resulted in injury, there have fortunately been no fatalities, he noted.

“The biggest violators are kids and their parents are allowing it,” St. George Police Chief Kyle Whitehead said in the meeting.

With the exception of private communities like SunRiver and Desert Color, it is currently illegal to drive a golf cart on public city streets. Doing so can result in a citation and accompanying fines.

Assistant City Attorney Ryan Dooley speaks to the St. George City about a proposed ordinance allowing golf carts onto certain city streets, St. George, Utah, Jan, 25, 2024 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

However, both Needles and Whitehead favor the police educating residents about the law and would rather not be issuing tickets that could result in a class B misdemeanor on a person’s record.

“A class B is a bit stiff,” Whitehead said, adding he felt that level of a citation was more appropriate for repeat offenses. In the cases where children are involved, the responsibility for any citations or fines would fall on the parents.

Councilwoman Michelle Tanner said she appreciated the education approach by police as she was worried about the potential for “heavy-handed” enforcement.

Assistant City Attorney Ryan Dooley presented the City Council with a draft for a proposed golf cart ordinance that city staff have worked on since October. Overall, he said the ordinance is meant to establish the “time, place and manner” in which the City Council felt golf cart use on city street was appropriate.

The following are some of the elements City Council members instructed city staff to add to the draft of the ordinance:

Golf cart can be driven on city streets where the speed limit is 25 mph or less.
Drivers must be 16 years old is order to legally operate a golf cart on city streets.
Golf carts without lights are not to be operated at night.

The City Council will vote on adopting the proposed ordinance in a regular meeting at a future date.

State law was passed in 2020 that allows municipalities to adopt their own regulations for golf cart use on municipal streets.

Specifically, a new ordinance requires cities to outline which roads golf carts can be used on, the time of day the golf carts can be driven on those roads and how old a person must be to legally operate the cart. Cities that choose not to draft such an ordinance are to treat golf carts with the same rules as bicycles.

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