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You could soon need a driver's license or permit to drive a golf cart on public roads

Golf carts on public road
Joe Byrnes
New bills would require a driver's license or learner's permit to drive a regular golf cart on public roads in Florida. The carts shown here are from a political event in The Villages in October 2020.

Driving a regular golf cart on public roads will require a learner's permit or a driver's license under bills moving through the Florida Legislature.

Under current law, you don't need a license and children as young as 14 can drive golf carts on roads designated for their use.

GOP State Representative Cyndi Stevenson of St. Johns says her bill is in response to safety concerns raised by the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

"This bill will have an immediate effect on lowering the number of accidents which occur when children are allowed to operate golf carts at a young and inexperienced age," she said. "It will make it practical for law enforcement to reinforce safety laws by issuing warnings and even tickets when necessary."

Rep. Keith Truenow, R-Tavares, was the one dissenting vote in the House Infrastructure Strategies Committee on Monday.

He argued it could affect people using other low-speed vehicles, that grandparents and parents let their kids drive golf carts and that the children would continue to use them anyway.

"This rule may help a little," Truenow said, "but I don't think it moves the needle enough and I think it adversely hurts other people in the meantime."

Stevenson emphasized the narrow scope of her bill, which applies only to public roads.

"This bill does not apply to low-speed vehicles. It does not apply to e-bikes. It's very narrow. It only applies to golf carts ... that are not able to exceed 20 mph," she said.

House Bill 949 won final committee approval on Monday and awaits a vote by the full House.

A Senate version is also advancing.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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