July 22, 2024

There have been a lot of questions about where you can drive golf carts and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV) in the Town of Westlake.  So, we wanted to break it down for everyone so that the law is easy to understand.   First and foremost, motorized vehicles of any kind, including golf carts, ARE NOT ALLOWED ON WESTLAKE’S SIDEWALKS AND TRAILS! It’s important to note, Keller Police will be on the lookout for unlawful drivers, so please, read carefully before driving your carts/NEVs.

YOU CAN DRIVE A GOLF CART/NEV IN WESTLAKE WHEN:

  • They are driven by a LICENSED OPERATOR, and:
  • They are driven inside a GATED community, or:
  • They are being driven during daylight hours TO OR FROM A GOLF COURSE within 2 miles of the course with the proper equipment. 
  • Proper equipment includes:
    1. Slow-moving vehicle emblem
    2. Headlamps
    3. Tail lamps
    4. Reflectors
    5. A parking brake
    6. Mirrors, etc.,) or:
  • Golf carts may be driven across a street with a speed limit less than 35 mph, or: 
  • NEVs may be driven on roads with a speed limit less than 45 mph if properly equipped (and insured) and at a max speed of 35 mph.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED A GOLF CART/NEV?

1. A “golf cart”, as defined in Sec. 502.001(18) of the Texas Transportation Code, is a motor vehicle designed by the manufacturer primarily for transporting persons on a golf course. A golf cart must have headlamps, tail lamps, reflectors, a parking brake, mirrors, and a slow-moving vehicle emblem to be driven on any city street. Id. §§ 547.703; 551.404. 

2. Sec. 551.301 defines a “neighborhood electric vehicle” (NEV) as a vehicle that can attain a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour on a paved level surface and otherwise complies with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 500 (49 C.F.R. Section 571.500). The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard requires that NEVs be equipped with headlamps, stop lamps, turn signal lamps, tail lamps, reflex reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, seat belts, and vehicle identification numbers. Based on a bill passed in 2013, section 551.304 of the Texas Transportation Code allows NEVs to drive in areas similar to where golf carts may drive. This includes in master-planned communities, on public and private beaches, and on a public highway where the speed limit is 35 mph or less and within two miles of a golf course. An NEV must have liability insurance if it is driven on public streets. TEX. TRANSP. CODE § 601.052. NEVs are larger than golf carts but smaller than most passenger vehicles. In any case, the law governing NEVs is separate from the law governing golf carts.

3. A person operating a motor vehicle, including golf carts, on a highway in this state must hold a driver’s license per Sec. 521.021 of the Texas Transportation Code. 

4. The definition of “highway” according to the Texas Transportation Code Sec. 541.302(5) is the width between the boundary lines of a publicly maintained way any part of which is open to the public for vehicular travel. Therefore, a driver’s license is required to operate a motor vehicle on any public roadway. 

5. A golf cart and neighborhood electric vehicles are by definition motor vehicles and therefore must comply with all traffic laws, including speed limits, stop signs, and the prohibition against driving while intoxicated. 

6. The Texas Transportation Code allows the operation of a golf cart or NEV vehicle in a master-planned (GATED) community, on a public or private beach, and on a public highway with a posted speed limit of no more than 35 mph; if the golf cart is operated during daylight hours and is not more than two (2) miles from its residence and is traveling to or from a golf course (see Sec. 551.403). Therefore, a golf cart operated in accordance with these limitations is not exempt from the traffic law. 

7. Sec. 551.405 of the Texas Transportation Code allows golf carts to cross over a road or street with a posted speed limit of more than 35 mph. 

8. An all-terrain vehicle (ATV) is a motor vehicle with a seat or seats, three or more tires, is not designed by the manufacturer primarily for farming or lawn care, and is not more than 50 inches wide. TEX. TRANSP. CODE § 502.001. An ATV generally can only be driven on a public street if: 

  • The street is not an interstate or limited access highway; 
  • The transportation is associated with an agricultural or utility use; 
  • The vehicle has a triangular orange flag; 
  • The vehicle has headlights and taillights; 
  • The driver has a driver’s license; 
  • The vehicle is operated during the day; and 
  • The distance driven does not exceed a total distance of 25 miles from beginning to end. 

9.   Courts have added two new violations to the ticket writers for these offenses. The violation numbers are 3322C – Electric Vehicle on Roadway and 3322D – Golf Cart on Roadway

QUESTIONS?

Driving a golf cart or NEV without a license or improper equipment can be extremely dangerous, especially if driven on a busy street. So please, before you drive, make sure you’re following all the laws stated above. 

If you have any questions about golf cart laws within the Town of Westlake, please contact Keller Police on their non-emergency number, 817-743-4500.