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Tickets On Golf Carts: Staying Safe at the Beach this Fourth of July

The Summer is in full swing. Its hot out. The Beach is packed. Traffic is horrible. But staying safe this 4th of July means understanding the consequences of cruising around on that Golf Cart.

A common misconception is that traffic laws do not apply, or aren’t enforced the same, for those cruising around in a golf cart. However, every year, visitors to some of the area’s best beach destinations, including Bald Head Island, Oak Island, Holden Beach, Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach learn the very difficult and expensive lesson: there is no golf cart loophole in NC.

1. DWI’s Apply to Golf Carts!

Think twice before that quick cruise to the corner market to grab some more cold ones. Under North Carolina Law, Driving While Impaired laws DO NOT distinguish between a Club Cadet and a Cadillac. G.S. 20-4.01 defines a vehicle as “every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway.” That means the golf cart at Bald head Island is no different than the Mustang on I40.

2. Speed Limits Apply to Golf Carts.

Speeding tickets are a surefire way to ruin a weekend. Missed work, Court Costs, Fines, License Points, and Insurance increases are all possible consequences from going even a few miles per hour to quick. While most golf carts are struggling to keep up with vehicle traffic, some of our beaches have pretty low speeds. That speeding ticket on a moped or in a golf cart has the same affect as one in your personal car.

3. Broken Equipment Violations Apply to Golf Carts.

NC requires safety equipment and features on any vehicle that travels on the roads. Just like your own car or truck, that Golf Cart needs to have working headlights and taillights if you’re driving on the street. Make sure your cart is in good working condition before using it.

4. Open Containers Apply to Golf Carts.

Almost anyone who has enjoyed a round of golf in Coastal North Carolina has seen (or partaken) in a few beers during the round. This is perfectly legal because you are on private property. (Driving home afterwards may be a different story.) North Carolina’s Law Enforcement Officers, however, will be more than happy to write you a ticket for that same beer if you are on the streets.

A driver of a golf cart that is consuming alcohol or “while alcohol remains in their body” can be convicted of a misdemeanor for driving on the streets with an open container of alcohol. A first offender can receive court costs of $190.00 + a fine, and possibly even 20 days in jail!

NC’s open container law also applies to passengers. G.S. 20-138.7 (a1) makes it an infraction (punishable by $188 Court Costs + Fines) for a passenger to possess an opened alcoholic beverage in a golf cart.

For the purposes of this law, anything besides a sealed manufacturer’s container, such as a solo cup, flask or even an opened bottle of liquor is considered an open container.


Visiting the beach is arguably the best way to enjoy the summer. Many beach rentals will include a golf cart for cruising around that summer traffic. Bald Head Island only allows golf carts on the island. However much fun cruising on the golf cart is, nothing will ruin a vacation faster than a criminal charge. Hopefully, these tips will save you from a ruined vacation.

If you or a loved one does find themselves in need of legal assistance, we can help. We have helped hundreds of vacationers with traffic tickets, minor criminal offenses and even serious felonies that they were charged with while on vacation.

We offer free criminal consultations, and our office is open Monday thru Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

This blog post is for informational purposes only; and it is not intended to be legal advice. Your accessing of this information or any information on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.

If you are seeking legal assistance,

please call the Law Offices of Timothy Dugan

or click HERE to contact us now.

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