California offers residents beautiful weather all year long. There are ample opportunities for outings like playing a round of golf with friends. No matter the setting, it’s imperative that you always drink responsibly.
If you have one too many drinks at the clubhouse before driving your golf cart, you can be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. California takes a firm stance against drunk driving and you may face harsh penalties, even if no car is involved. Brush up on California’s DUI laws before you drink and drive a golf cart.
California DUI Laws Apply to All Vehicles
In the state of California, it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal limit of blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08%. Drivers under age 21 may not drive with a BAC of 0.05% or higher. A DUI in California can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
While you may not expect this standard to apply to golf carts, California Vehicle Code Section 670 defines a vehicle as any device that can propel a person or cargo on a highway. So long as it is not moved entirely by manpower or used on a stationary track, it counts as a vehicle. Because a motor is not part of this definition, vehicles may include horses and bicycles, along with:
- Golf carts
- All-terrain vehicles
It makes no difference whether you drive a golf cart on a public roadway or private property. If you are operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can get a DUI.
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Do Police Arrest People for DUI on a Golf Cart?
Naturally, California police officers will be most concerned about drunk drivers who cause major traffic accidents and road fatalities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one person is killed by drunk driving every 50 minutes. For many police officers, golf cart DUI may not be on their radar.
Most DUI arrests involve passenger vehicles, semi-trucks, and other motor vehicles. This is because police officers have more interactions with these vehicles on the road. Police officers are more likely to make a golf cart DUI arrest if:
- Someone is injured in a golf cart crash
- A golf cart is driven on high-speed roads
- An inebriated driver causes a public scene
- An onlooker calls police to report a concerning situation
While it may seem like an overstretch of police authority or a waste of resources, a golf cart accident can claim lives. These vehicles should be treated with the same regard as cars.
Can You Get a DUI on a Private Golf Course?
If you drive a golf cart on a private road while intoxicated, you can be arrested for DUI. Police officers normally have little reason to enter private property, though they may choose to patrol a public golf course. If you become inebriated at a public or private golf course, police may respond to the scene if other golfers report dangerous or illegal behavior.
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Is It Legal to Drive a Golf Cart on the Road in California?
Per Cal. Veh. Code § 21254, golf carts are considered low-speed vehicles. So long as a golf cart has not been modified to drive faster than 15 mph, it may be permitted on some roads. Golf carts are allowed on roads with a speed limit of 25 mph or less.
To be considered “street legal,” a golf cart must be equipped with:
- Brake lights
- Side and rear-view mirrors
- Windshield reflectors
Golf carts are commonly used on residential roads. The vehicle has to be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and drivers must carry auto insurance. It is important to note that golf carts may only be driven on the road during daylight hours.
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Do You Need a Driver’s License to Drive a Golf Cart?
You may need a driver’s license to drive a golf cart, depending on where it is used. If you want to drive a golf cart to get around on private property, you do not require a driver’s license. If you plan to drive a golf cart on a public road or highway, you must have a valid driver’s license in California.
Can You Lose Your License for a Golf Cart DUI?
As with any vehicle, if you drive a golf cart while drunk, you may lose your driving privileges. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you can lose your driver’s license for four months for a first offense. Repeat offenders may be charged with a felony.
In addition to losing your license, you can expect hefty fines, jail time, and difficulty securing college scholarships after a golf cart DUI in California. The best course of action would be to refrain from alcohol if you plan on driving a golf cart. While golf carts are not normally associated with drunk driving wrecks, you should do everything you can to avoid an accident.