Golf cart ordinance passed in Carolina Beach and its anticipated impacts

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) —Carolina Beach Town Council approved an ordinance that impacts anyone who drives a golf cart.

Effective July 1, only golf cart owners who already have permits can renew them.  No new permit applicants will be allowed.

The move is in preparation for an ordinance that will go into effect in January of 2028, which will prohibit golf carts from being driven on public streets within the Carolina Beach town limits.

Only state registered low-speed vehicles will be allowed on streets with speed limits of 35 miles-per-hour or less.

Carolina beach Mayor Lynn Barbee says the ordinance will remove golf carts that are not street-legal, which includes those that can’t exceed speeds of over 20 miles an hour, and aren’t registered or licensed through the DMV.

“Some of the confusion is embedded in the terminology that the town used back in 2008, that they used this term called a “golf cart”. Which is confusing, because we all call them golf carts. Whether they’re street legal or not street legal, but there’s a fundamental difference between a state registered, legal low speed vehicle, which may look exactly like a golf cart, but meets different safety requirements,” said Lynn Barbee, Carolina Beach mayor.

According to Carolina Beach Police Chief Vic Ward, safety concerns with golf carts have risen as traffic continues to increase due to more residents and exponential growth of tourism.

“The issues that we’re seeing as far as safety, are unrestrained children on the golf carts, and impaired driving. We’ve had some pretty serious collisions where folks are under the influence and they’re operating  the golf carts recklessly, or turning in front of vehicles and causing collisions,” said Vic Ward, Carolina Beach police chief.

The town council voted 4-1 on the ordinance, and Council Member Joe Benson voted against the ordinance.

“The question I had was, what are the number of citations or traffic accidents/incidents, that brought us to this point, where we want to take or impose greater regulation on golf carts, and the data was never presented,” said Joe Benson, Carolina Beach council member.

In the last week, SunFun Rentals has helped around 10 carts become street legal, helping them get a 17 digit vehicle identification number, and make safety modifications.

Shannon McPeek, SunFun Rental sales & marketing communications director, said gas golf carts cannot be modified to become street legal.

“We can tune certain golf carts, even if it’s a little bit  older, certain golf carts or club cars, easy go’s or other brands, do have the capability of becoming street legal, but it really gets down to the nitty gritty, –if it’s road sound, nothing’s really falling off, the rust hasn’t gotten to it a lot. Those are still able to be street legal, you don’t have to get a brand new cart, and spend thousands of dollars. We can accommodate pretty much anyone,” said Shannon, McPeek, SunFun Rental sales & marketing communications director.

Already permitted golf cart owners in Carolina Beach will be able to renew their annual golf cart permits each year through 2027.

Town leaders say that will give owners plenty of time to explore equipment upgrades, or newer low-speed vehicle options.

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