Golf Carts & 'Street Legal' Vehicles

Is it legal to drive a golf cart in Leland?

Golf carts are not allowed on public streets or highways within the Town of Leland, however "low-speed vehicles" are.

What about “street legal” golf carts?

“Street legal” is a term commonly used by retailers of modified golf carts. However, to actually be allowable, “street legal” golf carts must adhere to guidelines and restrictions, as outlined in N.C. General Statute § 20-121.1, that pertain to allowable low-speed vehicles.

What is a “low-speed vehicle”?

State law defines a “low-speed vehicle” as a “four-wheeled electric vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour but less than 25 miles per hour.” By comparison, golf carts are defined by state law as vehicles created for use on golf courses for “sporting or recreational purposes” that cannot exceed 20 miles per hour.

Can a golf cart also be a “low-speed vehicle”?

Yes, if it meets the statutory guidelines and restrictions for a low-speed vehicle.

What are those guidelines and restrictions?

N.C. General Statute § 20-121.1 requires low-speed vehicles to be equipped with:

  • Headlamps
  • Stop lamps
  • Turn signal lamps
  • Tail lamps
  • Reflex reflectors
  • Parking brakes
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Windshields
  • Windshield wipers
  • Speedometer
  • Seat belts
  • Vehicle identification number

All required equipment must be maintained in proper working order. As such, low-speed vehicles must be registered, annually inspected and insured, much like a regular vehicle. (N.C.G.S. § 20-50 and § 20-309)

Are compliant low-speed vehicles allowed on any street or highway?

No. State statutes limit low-speed vehicles to only those streets and highways with posted speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less. However, this restriction does not prohibit a low-speed vehicle from crossing a road or street at an intersection with a posted speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour.

The Department of Transportation may prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles on any road or highway if it determines that the prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.

Who regulates the operation of low-speed vehicles on public streets in Leland?

As a municipality, the Town of Leland has the authority to regulate the public streets within its limits. Accordingly, Brunswick County golf cart ordinances do not apply to the public streets and highways within the Town.

My HOA does not allow golf carts and/or low-speed vehicles, can I still drive on public streets?

Some communities may prohibit property owners, by way of restrictive covenants, to use golf carts and/or low-speed vehicles within public streets of that community.  Restrictive Covenants are a private matter between the homeowner and the community’s Homeowners’ Association.  The Town of Leland does not enforce private restrictive covenants.