HPNM

Hattiesburg’s First Draft of Golf Cart Ordinance Available for Review

Hattiesburg, Mississippi – During the August 1 Work Session of the Hattiesburg City Council, the first draft of an ordinance regulating golf carts and low-speed vehicle usage on city roads was presented by Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George.

The ordinance, as currently drafted, requires that all golf carts and low-speed vehicles operated on public roads within the City be registered through the City Clerk’s office. It also limits the operation of these vehicles to roads with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less. The city’s Traffic Committee can also prohibit other roads based on traffic counts, recommendations by governing authorities, street design and other factors.

“With the increased use of golf carts and low-speed vehicles around Hattiesburg, it was important to propose an ordinance that establishes set standards for the operation of these vehicles – with an emphasis on ensuring that the safety of those on golf carts, pedestrians and motor vehicles is a priority,” said George. “This ordinance, if passed by the council, will help enhance the quality of life in our city. It will also make sure that everyone is following the requirements of the law.”

Additional regulations outlined in the ordinance include:

  • Vehicles must meet safety equipment requirements under 49 CFR Section 571.500 (headlamps, front and rear turn signal lamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, reflect reflectors, exterior mirror mounted on driver’s or passenger’s side, parking brake, VIN number or Serial Number, Type 1 or Type 2 seatbelts, proper windshield and an alert sound).
  • Drivers operating a golf cart or low-speed vehicle must have a valid driver’s license and proof of financial responsibility as required by state law.
  • Operation is limited to the outside lane of multi-lane streets and roads, where applicable.
  • Operation is subject to all applicable laws of the State of Mississippi and the City related to traffic and parking, along with corresponding penalties, not specifically addressed herein.
  • Operation is not permitted within the barricaded confines of any festival, event or road closure where typical vehicular traffic is prohibited. 

The current draft will be reviewed by council members and the community for additional feedback. George hopes to present it for a vote during the August 16 council meeting. 

“Golf carts and low-speed vehicles have the potential to enhance livability in our city. However, basic safety standards that comply with state and federal law are necessary. Additionally, any ordinance must seek to protect those in golf carts as well as those in motor vehicles,” said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker. “I appreciate Councilman George’s commitment to passing a sound ordinance and Hunter White in our traffic department for working to establish a system that checks all of the boxes.”

If passed in August, Hattiesburg will join eight additional cities in Mississippi to pass a similar ordinance. 

Golf-cart and low-speed vehicle ordinances are becoming more common after the passing of Senate Bill 2605 in the 2021 session of the Mississippi Legislature. This bill made it legal for cities and towns to pass ordinances to legally allow these vehicles operable on city streets.

Residents who wish to provide feedback about the ordinance can send questions or concerns by phone at 601-545-4501 or by email to mayor@hattiesburgms.com or jrgeorge@hattiesburgms.com.

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ORDINANCE DRAFT

[download – August 1 DRAFT]

GOLF CART & LOW-SPEED VEHICLE ORDINANCE
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (AS THE DRAFT IS WRITTEN CURRENTLY)

1. Why is an ordinance necessary?

In 2021, the Mississippi Legislature passed Senate Bill 2605 giving municipalities the authority to pass ordinances for golf-cart and low-speed vehicles to match the needs of a community. As it currently stands, the operation of golf carts and low-speed vehicles is illegal within the city limits of Hattiesburg. The ordinance will not only make it legal but make provisions that prioritize public safety.

2. How much will registration be?

At this time, the fee structure has not been determined.

3. If I already have a golf cart or low-speed vehicle, will I have to register it for legal use?

Yes. If the ordinance is passed, legal use will require registration of the vehicle with the City Clerk’s office. All registered vehicles will be required to place a decal on the golf cart or low-speed vehicle proving registration.

4. Once registered, can I drive my golf cart on any city street?

No. Registered golf carts and low-speed vehicles should only be operated on public roads and streets in the city where there is an established speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less. The city’s Traffic Committee can also prohibit other roads based on traffic counts, recommendations by governing authorities, street design and other factors.

5. Once I have my registration, will it have to be renewed? 

Registration will remain valid for as long as the registrant is the owner of the golf cart or low-speed vehicle. Replacement decals for those that are lost or damaged can be purchased for an additional fee.

6. Once registered, can I drive my golf cart on any city street?

No. Registered golf carts and low-speed vehicles should only be operated on public roads and streets in the city where there is an established speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less. The city’s Traffic Committee can also prohibit other roads based on traffic counts, recommendations by governing authorities, street design and other factors.

7. Who will enforce the ordinance?

The Hattiesburg Police Department will enforce all traffic and road-based regulations listed in the ordinance. Citations will be written for unauthorized operation of a golf cart or low-speed vehicle.

8. What if my golf cart is missing a few of the street legal requirements?

All golf carts and low-speed vehicles will be required to meet the operable safety standards before being registered. 

9. Can an underage driver operate my registered golf cart or low-speed vehicle under my supervision or authority? 

No. The ordinance regulates that all drivers operating a golf cart or low-speed vehicle must have a valid driver’s license and proof of financial responsibility as required by state law. Underage driving will not be permitted.

10. What happens if my underage driver is pulled over for operating our family’s golf cart or low-speed vehicle?

The Hattiesburg Police Department will issue a citation for unlicensed driving. This is considered a misdemeanor and the fine is $445.

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