BY BRUCE BRANUM
The Greenville Standard
After residents of the City of Greenville expressed an interest in being able to utilize golf carts as a form of transportation within the city limits as other cities in Alabama have implemented, the Greenville City Council voted to allow the use of golf carts with certain restrictions on Monday, Aug. 14.
According to Ordinance 2023-05, the police chief shall have authority to adopt policies and procedures to administer the article consistent with the purpose and intent of the article and such policies shall not have the effect of waiving the requirements of the article.
Alabama law, specifically Ord. No. 2023-05, §1, 8-28-2023, allows cities to determine whether golf carts may safely travel on designated streets after considering several factors, including the speed, volume, and character of motor vehicle traffic using the street.
The designation in the article of certain streets on which golf carts may safely travel is not a determination or representation by the city that operation of golf carts on such streets is in fact safe or advisable even if done in accordance with this article due to the limited drive characteristics and safety features of golf carts.
All persons operating golf carts must be observant of, and attentive to the safety of themselves and others, including their passengers, other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
All persons who operate or ride carts on public streets inside the city do so at their own risk and peril, and no permit for the operation of a cart on public streets shall be issued except upon execution by the owner of the cart of a written undertaking to indemnify and hold the city, its officials, officers, agents, and employees harmless from any and all liability of any kind or character directly or indirectly associated with such operation. (Ord. No. 2023-05, §1, 8-28-2023)
A cart means a four-wheeled, self-propelled vehicle used to transport persons or property, that is designed to operate at speeds no greater than 25 miles per hour. The term “cart” does not include off-road recreational vehicles such as “side by side,” ranger, 4-wheeler, or state tagged vehicles.
Designated cart street means public streets within the corporate limits of the city designated for the use of carts:
Any municipal roadway within the corporate city limits of the city with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less unless otherwise marked by appropriate signage stating carts are not allowed.
The list of designated cart streets may be amended by the addition of other streets or the deletion of streets previously listed, provided, however, no street on which the speed limit is greater than 25 miles per hour shall be designated as a designated cart street.
Cart crossings mean a designated location for a cart to cross over a non-designated cart street. Cart operators must yield right of way to motor vehicles (automobiles) before using a cart crossing and may not cross until safe to do so.
No person may operate a cart without a permit issued by the police department.
To obtain a permit, the owner of the cart must make an application to the department and pay a fee of $50 per year.
Fees may be increased or decreased by resolution of the city council. Fees shall be non-transferable and non-refundable.
An inspection of the cart will be required for the initial permit and then again every three years to maintain the permit.
Permits are valid for three years, and must be affixed to the cart as directed by the police chief.
Each cart shall be inspected to ensure it is equipped with head lights mounted no higher than 36 inches and no lower than 12 inches, seat belts for driver and each passenger, brake lights, turn signals, a standard horn, a windshield, a rear-view mirror, efficient brakes, and reliable steering apparatus.
No permit shall be issued for any cart that fails such inspection.
No permit shall be issued for any cart without proof that any person who may operate the cart on a public street is covered by a policy of liability insurance held by the owner of the cart.
The required minimum liability limits for the operation of the cart shall be the same as those required by the State of Alabama for operation of a motor vehicle.
Each permitted cart shall display the assigned permit sticker on each side of the golf cart below the front seat, no smaller than four inches in height. (Ord. No. 2023-05, §1, 8-28-2023)
The cart operator must have a valid drivers’ license issued by a state or other governmental authority.
Operators must adhere to all state and municipal laws applicable to the operation of motor vehicles, including, without limitation, all laws concerning the operation of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Operators may not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.
A cart may not be operated between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
A cart may not be operated two or more abreast in a single lane and cart drivers must yield the right-of-way to overtaking vehicles at all times.
The maximum occupancy of a cart shall be the number of occupants the cart can seat. No cart shall be operated on a roadway unless all occupants are seated and in a seat belt.
No cart shall be parked in a designated handicapped parking space unless the driver or at least one passenger has a valid handicap parking permit that is displayed on the cart.
No cart shall cross a non-designated cart street except at a designated cart crossing. (Ord. No. 2023-05, §1, 8-28-2023)
Any person committing a violation of this article shall, upon conviction, be punished in accordance with the following standard:
Suspension/revocation of cart privileges. The police chief may suspend the permit of any cart that has been operated in violation of this article for a period not to exceed 30 days. The suspension may be imposed on the first or subsequent offense.
The police chief may permanently revoke the permit of any cart that has committed multiple violations of this article.
It does not matter if multiple violations are committed by a different operator, as long as, it is the same cart.
The cart being operated in violation of this ordinance may be towed and impounded.
The operator of a cart that is in violation of this article may receive a fine of no greater than $150 and would be responsible for the towing company’s expenses if the cart is impounded.
The owner of the cart may appeal the decision to the city council, if a permit is revoked or suspended, by filing a request with the city clerk within 10 days from the action revoking or suspending the permit.
After receiving all relevant evidence pertaining to the suspension, the city council may uphold or reverse the suspension or revocation of a permit.
As for fine schedules, a first offense of a cart in violation of the ordinance shall be $50; a second offense shall increase the fine to $100; and a third offense shall increase the fine to $150 in accordance with City Code.
The fine shall increase even if the operator is not the same, as long as, it is the same permitted cart that has committed the violation.
The fine shall also increase if the operator is the same even if the operator is on a different permitted cart.
It is recommended that a permit be revoked after three violations of a permitted cart within a three-year period. (Ord. No. 2023-05, §1, 8-28-2023)