Florida is fast becoming the nation’s custom golf cart capital. Many residents, including families, are ditching traditional family cars and SUV’s for street-legal golf carts, or NEV’s (neighborhood electric vehicles).
Florida residents are finding that street-legal golf carts are ideal for local errands, grocery shopping and dropping the kids off at school. As most street legal golf carts are electric powered there are major savings to be had with gas costs.
The popularity of street-legal golf carts was boosted in 2009, when a federal stimulus package offered buyers the option to receive tax credits of up to $5,400. These days, that tax credit has been reduced to about 10% of the golf cart cost, up to $2,500, and even though the tax credit is a lot less many families are still signing up.
Florida state motor vehicle records reveal that Palm Beach County had 315 low-speed vehicles registered last year, a 19 percent increase from 2009. Broward County had 352, up 31 percent and the third-highest total in Florida.
Across Florida there were a grand total of 6,271 golf carts registered in 2010, up 14 percent from 2009, as reported by the Sun Sentinel.
Unlike conventional golf carts that you find on the golf course, like most states, Florida law requires that street-legal golf carts have headlights, brake lights, turn signals, seat belts, a windshield, parking brakes and a vehicle identification number. These street-legal golf carts vehicles are limited to a top speed of 25 mph, must be registered and insured, and operators must have a valid driver's license. They must also be electric powered and are restricted to streets with a posted 35mph speed limit.
"I've had my low-speed electric neighborhood vehicle for about five years," said Broward Circuit Judge Michael Orlando, who drives his golf cart to the main courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale everyday. "I was one of the first in Broward County to obtain a certification of compliance as well as a Florida license plate for the cart."
Although factory built NEV's are available from several manufacturers, most owners choose to upgrade standard electric golf carts with the necessary safety equipment that is required by Florida law. In Florida there are many shops that are able to create custom golf carts to any specification that an owner requires, and to add the safety equipment required.