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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Is a Golf Cart Street Legal in TN? A Complete Guide

Tennessee weather provides the ideal location for keen golfers, and golf carts are the must-have item for those who spend long hours on the green.

A common question asked by golf cart owners is whether or not they can legally drive them on Tennessee streets. It is important to understand the laws and requirements before taking to the road.

The Quick Answer: Is a Golf Cart Street Legal in TN?

The Quick Answer: Is a Golf Cart Street Legal in TN?

Traditional golf carts are not street legal according to Tennessee law. They are designed and manufactured as motor vehicles for sporting or recreational purposes- not as a mode of transport.

Golf carts must not be driven on any roads- including neighborhood streets.

Any person driving golf carts on a golf course must have a valid instruction permit or license in their possession- and be over the age of 16. Having a permit to drive a golf cart on the course does not mean the vehicle is titled or registered for legal road use.

Golf Carts VS Medium or Low-Speed Vehicles: What Is the Difference?

Golf carts are often mistaken for low-speed vehicles, which are sometimes street-legal in Tennessee. There are a few vital differences.

First, most golf carts do not exceed 20 miles per hour, while a low-speed vehicle's top speed is greater than 20 MPH but less than 25 MPH.

Medium-speed vehicles must have a speed capacity of between 30 and 35 miles per hour.

Here are some other key differences.

  • LSVs and MSVs must have a license plate with a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) displayed clearly.

  • Owners of LSVs and MSVs must also provide proof of insurance.

  • They also have additional safety equipment, such as turn signals, extra mirrors, and a parking brake. 

Low or Medium Speed Vehicle Requirements for Road Use

As long as a medium or low-speed vehicle is titled and registered and meets all safety standards outlined above, it can be legally driven on some roads.

The road's posted speed limit cannot exceed 35 MPH for low-speed vehicles but can be 40 MPH or less for medium-speed vehicles. Exceptions apply at intersections, where these vehicles can cross.

A full, valid driver license is required for anyone who wants to drive an LSV or MSV on a Tennessee road.

Do the Same Traffic Laws Apply to Medium and Low-Speed Vehicles?

All traffic laws and regulations that apply to normal motor vehicles also apply to low and medium-speed vehicles- as do the penalties for breaking the rules.

The same criminal punishment can be given to drivers of low or medium-speed vehicles who are guilty of driving under the influence or other reckless driving charges.

Can Golf Carts be Modified to Become Street Legal?

It is not uncommon to see what looks like a golf cart driving on Tennessee roads, which may confuse people as to the legality of them. The reason for this is modification options.

Modified golf carts that have been upgraded to meet the requirements for registration as a low or medium-speed vehicle can be titled and made legal for street use.

It has to meet federal safety standards and gain the proper certification before it can be taken on the road. The driver must also have at least a class D driver license. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also help with questions like is it illegal to drive with high beams on in TN?

How It Works

The process for modifying a golf cart to make it street-legal is as follows.

Find out the statutory requirements for low-speed vehicles according to Tennessee law. These include upgraded basic safety equipment such as seat belts for each designated seating position, rear turn signal lamps, tail lamps, an exterior mirror mounted on the driver's side, a passenger side mirror, and a parking brake.

Get a copy of the MSO (Manufacturer's Statement of Origin) for the golf cart and a low-speed affidavit form to give to the local county clerk's office. This acts as proof that the golf cart has been modified and meets the low or medium-speed vehicle requirements for legal street use.

Collect the same traditional documentation required to register a vehicle for a VIN. If the county clerk is satisfied with the vehicle registration application, the modified golf cart can be given a valid license plate- which must be displayed at all times.

Arrange valid insurance for the modified golf cart as a low or medium-speed vehicle before driving it on a Tennessee road. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys are also able to answer questions such as can people with one eye drive in TN?

What Happens if Someone Unlawfully Drives a Golf Cart on a Tennessee Street?

Anyone driving an unregistered, unmodified golf cart on a road or neighborhood street in Tennessee is breaking the law and putting people at risk. The police can intervene if contacted, and punishment may be issued.

If someone causes an accident while illegally driving a golf court, they could be liable for damages- including medical costs, property damage, and pain and suffering expenses through a personal injury claim.

What to Do If Involved in a Road Accident with a Golf Cart

What to Do If Involved in a Road Accident with a Golf Cart

.It is important to be sure first of all whether or not the golf cart is illegal or a legally modified LSV.

If it was not legal for street use, the driver has broken the law and could be responsible for the damages caused. In this case, the affected person should gather as much information and evidence as possible, phone the police, and contact a top personal injury attorney in Nashville.

Accidents involving a legal LSV or MSV are more complicated, and fault depends on the circumstances of the accident.

  • Call the police and do not leave the accident scene until they say it is fine to do so.

  • Check if the posted speed limit is higher than the vehicle is legally allowed to drive.

  • Ask for proof that the vehicle is legally allowed to be on the road.

  • Gather evidence from witnesses and take photos of the accident scene.

  • Exchange contact details and insurance information with the driver.

  • Contact an attorney.

Final Thoughts

Traditional golf carts are not street legal in Tennessee- but with certain modifications, they can be titled and registered as low or medium-speed vehicles with the right to drive on roads with an appropriate speed limit.

Contact Schuerger Schunnarah if you have been involved in a road accident involving a golf cart. These elite attorneys go to war for Nash accident victims to ensure justice and fair compensation are awarded.


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