ST. GEORGE — With the exception of the SunRiver community and other specified locations, it is currently illegal to drive a golf cart on city streets in St. George. This may change for additional parts of the city, however, as the City Council considers a new ordinance outlining when and where golf carts may be used.
In this file photo, a convoy of golf carts sit at The Ledges Golf Course for Washington County School District Foundation’s annual golf tournament in St. George, Utah, Sept. 28, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News
Creating a new ordinance regulating golf cart use was an item discussed by the City Council during a work meeting in late October and had its origins in concerns raised by police officers.
“Presently it is a crime for anyone to drive a golf cart on a public street, except for in specifically approved areas, like SunRiver,” David Cordero, the city’s communications and marketing director, told St. George News in an email.
“It might seem unnecessarily harsh to go issue citations for everyone who is currently illegally operating a golf cart on public roads, even when they are safely operating them,” Cordero wrote. “The Police wanted further guidance which is why they brought this issue to the City Council’s attention.”
State law was passed in 2020 that allows municipalities to adopt regulations for golf cart use on their 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 by the same rules as bicycles.
What the state code didn’t include at the time was a criminal penalty attached for individuals who transgressed the city-adopted golf cart code, St. George Police Sgt. Jeremy Needles said.
A major reason the police were asking for the City Council to consider a new ordinance is due to incidents involving children recklessly driving golf cart carts, Needles added.
“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,” he said.
There have been incidents of kids on golf carts blowing through stop signs and packing the carts full of kids, Needles said, adding that many of those kids tend to be under 12 years old.
“We have a lot of concern due to that,” he said.
While there haven’t been any fatalities involving a golf cart crash, Needles recalled a recent incident where a golf cart was packed with kids and rolled. At least two of the kids involved in the incident ended up with broken bones, but fortunately nothing worse, he said.
“Luckily there have been no kids killed, but our concern is the way they (golf carts) are being driven is going to potentially cost someone their lives, so we’re trying to get out ahead of that,” he said.
Law recently changed attaching a penalty to reckless golf cart use, Needles said. This can equate to an infraction and a possible fine of $130.
The City Council was given a presentation from the Police Department about their golf cart concerns during their Oct. 26 working meeting, Cordero said.
Following the meeting, the city’s legal staff was instructed to draft an ordinance for consideration. Once drafted, the potential ordinance will likely see further discussion by the City Council sometime in January, Cordero said.
As far as current enforcement goes, Needles said the police are presently in “education mode” and are informing the public about the law as it currently stands versus issuing citations. As people come to understand what the law actually is, Needles said the police hope it will help cut down on potentially dangerous and harmful incidents of reckless golf cart use.
Parents who may believe their kids are perfectly fine on a golf cart may also want to consider what exactly their child is doing, as they can be held accountable for any harm or damage caused by their child driving a golf cart.
“The operator, or the operator’s parent or legal guardian as the case may be would be responsible for any damage caused by their use of a golf cart,” Cordero said. “It is true that negligent operation of golf carts by children on public streets will ultimately be the responsibility of the parents.”
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