LSV vs Golf Cart

From the Office of Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel E. Stephen, and for immediate release

Operation Ride-Ride started on August 1, 2022, due to the numerous calls of concern, from all over the county about golf carts, Side-X-Sides, and other ATVs operating on roadways for motor vehicles. 

When unsupervised, children drive through neighborhoods, yards, or recklessly, while adults sometimes ride in the street, obstructing traffic, and someone calls into our office, which initiates a complaint.

Complaints numbered over fifty just before the start of the initiative in August. This number does not reflect deputy-initiated contacts, traffic crashes on roadways, or several wrecks involving injuries and deaths while operating one vehicle mentioned earlier. 

Phase one was education, spreading the word about enforcement concerns and educating the community about the laws governing the state’s golf cart vs. L.S.V. (Low-Speed Vehicles) and All-Terrain Vehicles on the public roadway. 

Moving on into Phase two, Sheriff Noel E. Stephen wanted to start this off by ensuring that everyone understood the difference between a golf cart and an L.S.V. 

(As a moot point, ATVs are not to be operated on public roadways (see below for the link to the Florida Statutes that cover ATV laws and the link for covered farm equipment). We will continue to focus and strictly enforce these laws.)

Golf cart vs. L.S.V. 

One is permitted to drive on a public roadway (under certain restrictions), and the other is illegal under any situation unless approved by the local governing government. 

The short version is that a golf cart is illegal on a roadway and the L.S.V. is not. We will explain everything in this advisory to ensure everyone becomes educated on the laws. 

Golf carts can operate on roads designated for golf carts with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or less. Again, Okeechobee County has not established public streets that allow this to happen. The local governing government must vote on and set specific requirements to establish the area. Then and only then would it be legal. Furthermore, the governing board can go above the bare statutory minimum requirements. 

Another question is, can a golf cart be converted into an L.S.V. and then be legal within Okeechobee County? The answer is yes

However, there needs to be an understanding of what makes an L.S.V. legal. 

L.S.V. (Low-Speed Vehicle) is defined by statute as “any four-wheeled vehicle whose top speed is greater than 20 miles per hour, but not greater than 25 miles per hour.” 

The L.S.V. must be registered, titled, and insured with personal injury protection (P.I.P.) and property damage liability (PDL) insurance. Any person operating an L.S.V. must have a valid driver’s license in their immediate possession.

Step One – L.S.V.’s may be operated only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 M.P.H. or less and equipped with the following safety equipment:

  • Headlamps;
  • Front and rear turn signals;
  • Stop lamps;
  • Tail lamps;
  • Reflex reflectors, red – one on each side and one on the rear;
  • Exterior mirror on the driver side and an interior rear-view mirror or exterior mirror on the passenger side;
  • Parking brake;
  • Windshield;
  • Seat belt for each designated seat; and a
  • Vehicle identification number (V.I.N.)

The State of Florida can only issue a V.I.N. for an L.S.V. after the owner has the unit inspected at a regional office.

Okeechobee’s regional office is in West Palm Beach. Call (561) 640-6820, make an appointment, and travel to 901 N. Point Parkway Suite 115&116, West Palm Beach, Florida, 33407, with the vehicle. 

Once the inspection is complete and the vehicle passes, it will receive a 17-digit V.I.N. and then is classified as an L.S.V. However; you can still not drive it within Okeechobee County without being registered with our tag office.

Step Two – Take all documents listed below to the office of Mrs. Celeste Watford, Okeechobee County Tax Collector, 409 NW 2nd Ave., Okeechobee, FL 34972:

  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin;
  • Form HSMV 82040 (Application for Title);
  • Proof of Florida insurance (minimum $10,000 PDL and $10, 000 PIP);
  • Identification – driver’s license, I.D. card or passport; and
  • Applicable fees
    • Title fee
    • Plate fee
    • Initial registration fee, if applicable
    • Registration fee (varies by weight of vehicle)

Attach the license plate registration tag onto the L.S.V. Remember you are to follow all laws of a standard motor vehicle on the roadway. 

Subsequently, it is possible to skip Step One if a dealership sells “Golf carts” already upgraded, inspected, and designated as L.S.V. and only needs to be registered through the Okeechobee Tag Office and follow Step Two ( shown above). 

Here is a handout that can be very helpful to anyone interested in owning and operating an L.S.V.

In the end, the safety of our fellow citizens is the priority and focus through traffic education and enforcement measures. The hope is that everyone has a more precise understanding of this issue and takes the necessary steps to prevent unnecessary interaction by continuing to travel illegally on our roadways. 

Suppose someone has a question or concern about this article and needs further information. 

In that case, we have handouts available at our Administrative office at 504 NW 4th St., Okeechobee, Florida, 34974, or call 863-763-3117 Ext 5018.