The Royston Police Department has a golf cart but cannot legally use it except in about a quarter of the city, according to Police Chief Daniel Cleveland.
City Attorney Mike Green said Cleveland told him golf carts, including the police golf cart, were legal on city streets without an ordinance but could not cross state highways without one.
“Right now, as we confirmed before the meeting, according to Chief Cleveland, it’s legal to operate these carts on city streets without an ordinance, but you have to have an ordinance that allows them to cross a state highway.”
Green said the city finds itself in a dilemma without the ordinance. “Our city police department owns a golf cart that they use. They can operate it on city streets, but they can’t cross a state highway with it without the ordinance.” Green said the ordinance would not apply just to the police golf cart but to all citizens.
Golf carts will only be allowed to cross state highways at street crossings or intersections. Golf carts will not be allowed to ride on state highways, only cross them.
“You can, in effect, jaywalk with the cart,” said Green.
Councilman Keith Turman questioned the ability to enforce the code if cart drivers did not have a license. Turman was told anyone driving a cart on a city street or crossing a state highway would be required to hold a valid driver’s license.
“If this ordinance passes, who is going to be responsible for doing the inspections on these vehicles?” asked Turman.
“I guess it would be the city marshal,” said Green. “Any city police officer could stop and check at any time,” he added.
“What happens if a golf cart is in an accident when crossing the highway? Is the person permitted with a license and if they were at fault would they be responsible at that point?” asked Turman.
Turman then asked if the city was placing itself in any more liability by passing the ordinance.
“I don’t think it would give the city any more exposure,” said Green. “I think that’s more of a civil matter between the parties. I don’t think it exposes the city to any more liability.”
“This ordinance that we may put into place will affect people that have golf carts now. Some of them will no longer be able to drive their golf carts,” said Councilwoman Angie Pressley. “I say that, but I assume that because it says you have to have a valid driver’s license. Pressley said the city could require a license or an age limit, like over 18.”
Turman said if a license was not required the city could not expect cart operators to adhere to traffic laws. “We can’t hold them liable for traffic laws if they don’t have a driver’s license,” said Turman.
Councilman David Jordan asked if someone could be charged with DUI in a golf cart and was told they could. “You can be charged even on a horse,” said Pressley.
Jordan said he too was concerned about golf carts becoming involved in an accident. “They don’t have to have liability insurance and we [automobile drivers] do,” said Jordan.
Green said it was unclear how golf carts were legal on city streets but go-carts were not under state law.
“I’ll be happy to put something in the ordinance which requires minimum Georgia limits of liability insurance,” said Green.
While council members seemed to be in favor of the ordinance they asked Green to revise the current draft and return with an updated version next month.
Franklin County Citizen, Mark Berryman