NEIGHBORHOOD ELECTRIC VEHICLES (NEVs), LOW SPEED VEHICLES (LSVs), AND GOLF CARTS IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA
An NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) is a federally-approved street-legal vehicle classification which came into existence in 1998 under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 500 (FMVSS 500).
The vehicle classification is referred to as “low-speed vehicle” or “LSV” within Federal regulations.
In Federal regulations, LSVs are defined as a four-wheeled motor vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 3,000 pounds and a top speed of between 20 mph to 25 mph. In Florida, LSVs are restricted to public streets with a maximum speed limit of 35 mph. Because of federal law,dealers cannot legally sell the vehicles to go faster than 25 mph. Any vehicle modified to exceed 25 mph becomes subject to safety requirements of passenger cars.
Therefore, the operation of an LSV or NEV necessarily follows the same laws, requirements and conditions of a standard automobile.
In Florida and other states, there are specific LSV, NEV and golf cart laws and regulations governing the usage and construction of “street legal” golf carts, or low speed vehicles (LSV). Defined by Florida Statute 320.01(42) as “any four-wheeled electric vehicles whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour but not greater than 25 miles per hour,” low speed vehicles include NEV or neighborhoodelectric vehicles. Golf carts that are not considered LSVs are prohibited from operation on roads with a few exceptions detailed in s. 316.212. As with motor vehicles, low speed vehicles are subject to a license tax, which is the same as that prescribed in Florida Statute s. 320.08- for non-electrically powered vehicles.
There are several features required for LSV and NEV electric vehicles or street legal golf carts in Florida, including:
Although Florida NEV and LSV electric vehicles are prohibited from operation on roads with posted speed limits above 35mph, they are allowed to cross roads that have higher speed limits.
In understanding the implications for a municipality considering the use of golf carts or low speed vehicles (LSV) on the city streets or county roads, one should consider that in Florida there are already State Statutes that allow the use of electric low speed vehicles or “street legal” golf carts.
Therefore, the local unit of government is not required to pass any extraordinary or enabling ordinances provisioning the use of an LSV.
The local unit of government may, however, wish to consider reducing the speed on certain streets to better facilitate the use of LSVs within the
community. Signage would be another issue the local unit of government may wish to employ to promote the safety and use of this low cost form of transportation within the municipality. In addition to operation and use, the State Statues even address the registration, licensing, and insurance requirements that are already in place. See the below summary:
316.2122 Operation of a low-speed vehicle on certain roadways.–The operation of a low-speed vehicle, as defined in s. 320.01(42), on any road as defined in s. 334.03(15) or (33), is authorized with the following restrictions:
History.–s. 1, ch. 99-163.
320.01 Definitions, general.–As used in the Florida Statutes, except as otherwise provided, the term:
(22) “Golf cart” means a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 miles per hour.
(42) “Low-speed vehicle” means any four-wheeled electric vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour but not greater than 25 miles per hour, including neighborhood electric vehicles. Low- speed vehicles must comply with the safety standards in 49 C.F.R. s. 571.500 and s. 316.2122.
320.02 Registration required; application for registration; forms.–
1(1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, every owner or person in charge of a motor vehicle which is operated or driven on the roads of this state shall register the vehicle in this state. The owner or person in charge shall apply to the department or to its authorized agent for registration of each such vehicle on a form prescribed by the department. No registration is required for any motor vehicle which is not operated on the roads of this state during the registration period.
320.08001 Electric vehicles; license tax.–The license tax for an electric vehicle or low-speed vehicle is the same as that prescribed in s. 320.08 for a vehicle that is not electrically powered.
History.–s. 11, ch. 95-333; s. 3, ch. 99-163.
Please note that the operation of a (standard) “golf cart” upon public roads is illegal in the State of Florida. However, if a local unit of government should chose to lower the National and State standards established for the manufacture, performance, and safety and allow “golf carts” access topublicly-owned roadways, then specific issues would necessarily have to be addressed and local ordinances would have to be implemented by the local unit of government to provision the use of “golf carts” on its streets. See the summary below regarding this option:
316.212 Operation of golf carts on certain roadways.–The operation of a golf cart upon the public roads or streets of this state is prohibited except as provided herein:
History.–s. 2, ch. 83-188; s. 1, ch. 84-111; s. 2, ch. 88-253; s. 322, ch. 95-148; s. 4, ch. 96-413; s. 168, ch. 99-248; s. 7, ch. 2000-313; s. 6, ch. 2005-164.
There continues to be much misunderstanding of the legal use of standard “golf carts” as a means of personaltransportation on public roadways in the State of Florida. This commentary addresses some of the Florida statutes governing the use of “street legal” golf carts (low speed vehicles) and “regular” golf carts on public roads. Although this discussion is by no means comprehensive, these Florida Statues are applicable to the vehicles we sell at the Electric Cart Company (ECC).
The Electric Cart Company is a licensed franchise motor vehicle dealer of new and used motor vehicles, as required by the State to be able to sell NEVs and LSVs to the Public. ECC also sells standard golf carts, as well.
Please note that ECC is not engaged in the practice of law and is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the interpretation of these statutes. If you have questions, we will try our best to answer them if you wish to stop by the dealership.
4552 US Hwy 98 West, # 16
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32550
850-622-2000 P | 850-622-2004 F
2012 Florida Statutes TITLE XXIII — MOTOR VEHICLES Chapter 316 — STATE UNIFORM TRAFFIC CONTROL 316.2126 — Authorized use of golf carts, low-speed vehicles, and utility vehicles.
Universal Citation: FL Stat § 316.2126 (2012 through 2nd Reg Sess)
Authorized use of golf carts, low-speed vehicles, and utility vehicles.— 316.2126