One of the most important questions to ask yourself before buying a golf cart is, “Do I need a street legal cart?”
Below we will answer some questions that people should be asking themselves in order to figure out exactly the kind of cart they need.
Your local authorities decide whether you need an LSV or not. The first thing you should do is to reach out to your local DMV, City Hall, Sheriff's Department, HOA, or any regulatory body in the area where you plan on using your cart and ask them how golf carts/LSVs are regulated. There is no universal policy when it comes to golf carts and LSVs. It is completely location-dependent.
After you have done this, you will know exactly what you need in your area and then can decide which option may be best for you.
A street legal cart is no longer called a golf cart, it is called a Low Speed Vehicle or LSV for short.
A Low Speed Vehicle is just like a golf cart but with some additional equipment that includes;
A VIN plate and VIN number
Minimum speed of 20 MPH - Maximum 25 MPH
A title or MCO (Certificate of Origin)
If you have an LSV, you can take your title and VIN # to your local DMV, register it as a vehicle and have a license plate to display on your golf cart.
LSVs must be registered, titled, and insured.
A Drivers License is required to operate an LSV.
Have all of the above?
Now you can drive your LSV!
You may operate your LSV on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 MPH or less.
So do you need an LSV?
It all depends on where you will be using your golf cart/LSV.
There are several places across the United States where golf carting is part of daily life. These places often tend to be attractive tourist destinations where golf cart rentals are popular.
Some places like FL-30A, a popular strip to operate a golf cart on the Northwest Coast of Florida, require your cart to be an LSV and visibly license plated to operate.
Additionally, there are communities that pass special ordinances that allow golf carts to be operated on their streets without the need to tag your golf cart with a license plate and therefore do not require carts to have a VIN #, title, or MCO.
A great example of such a place is Bay St. Louis, MS.
In Bay St. Louis you can simply apply for a special sticker that you can get at city hall. As long as you meet their requirements, you can drive on specified roads displaying the town sticker.
Understanding the rules and regulations in the communities where you will be using your golf cart is the key to understanding whether you need an LSV or not. Call your local DMV or Sheriffs' office and ask how to comply with the local rules. Consult with your neighbors or take note if the golf carts seen riding around your neighborhood have license plates or not.
Let’s define Golf Carts and LSVs simply.
Maximum 20 MPH
Operated on designated roads with a speed limit of 30 MPH or less
Maximum 25 MPH
Drivers License required to operate
Operated on streets with speed limit of 35 MPH or less
Has required equipment
For additional info on LSV requirements in the state of FL see the source:
Now that we have LSVs clearly defined, let’s weigh the positives and negatives of both golf carts and LSVs.
Golf Cart (+ and -)
Does not require insurance
If you want to insure it, it is much cheaper than LSV (around $100 a year)
Does not require a license to operate
Limited in the areas where it can be used
Less safety features
Comes with a title and proof of ownership
Can be used in more places across the country
Faster (25 MPH)
Has more safety features (i.e. Seat belts and lights)
Has value to more people in various locations when it comes to resale
Requires vehicle insurance (more expensive)
Additional governments regulations fees and registration costs
Additional cost from the manufacturer
Requires a license plate to operate
Simply put, where you live requires your golf cart to be a tagged LSV. In this case, your environment has made the decision for you.
People that love to travel around the country and bring their carts with them usually opt for the LSV just to cover all their bases and make it more likely that they can use their carts.
People that are already thinking about the time when it comes to selling the cart, would find it better to have an LSV because it opens up the entire nation as a market with no limitations and also has a title to help verify the ownership of the vehicle.
You may live in a community that does not require your cart to be tagged but in the future, those rules could change. People that want to anticipate further regulation may want the peace of mind of knowing they already have a cart that has a VIN# and additional requirements to be registered as a vehicle with the state.
Congrats, you are now a Golf Cart and LSV expert. So what will it be, Golf Cart or LSV?
Did we miss anything? Reach out to us and let us know!