What is the difference between LSVs and Golf Carts?

Golf carts were designed specifically for use on golf courses but have evolved into a convenient mode of local transportation.

Conversely, a low speed vehicle or LSV is considered street legal by both the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). This is due to the fact that LSVs have features such as headlights, turn signals, rearview mirrors, seat belts, and vehicle identification numbers.

The following are a few of the primary differences that exist between the two:

  • LSVs are often considered to be much safer given that they are manufactured according to significantly higher safety standards.
  • LSVs are considered street legal while golf carts are not legal on most public roads
  • Golf carts are designed for use at 20 mph or less, while low speed vehicles (which can vary from state to state) can be operated at speeds as high as 35 mph within the state of Maine
  • It is uncommon for manufacturers to modify golf carts in order to make them street legal, but LSVs are actually made to be street legal from the very outset
  • A cart can be covered with motorcycle insurance, but an LSV requires standard automobile insurance
  • LSVs typically cost several thousand dollars more than golf carts

Maine golf cart laws

How old does one need to be to operate a golf cart?

In most states, a person must be at least 14 years old to operate a golf cart, though driving golf carts at the age of 13 is lawful in several states. Given that there are different laws pertaining to age in every province, it is important to read up on the laws where you live.

When can you drive a golf cart and how far can you go?

You cannot drive this type of vehicle at night. The most important thing to remember, however, is that golf carts cannot be driven on the roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or more, regardless of the road type or the location of the road.

What should I carry with me when driving a golf cart?

The laws concerning licensing for golf carts can vary from one municipality to another. This is also true for registration. If these things are required where you live, make sure to keep them on hand.

What are the penalties for driving a golf cart while impaired?

If you drive an off-road cart and are found to be operating the cart while under the influence, you will be subject to the same laws for driving impaired while in a motor vehicle. As such, the penalties will be quite similar. Different states can have different requirements and restrictions concerning DUIs, particularly when a person is operating this type of vehicle.

What happens when an underage person gets into an accident while driving a golf cart?

When minors get into accidents while operating carts that result in property damages or injuries, their parents or guardians will be held liable. If the minor in question is emancipated, however, this person would be held liable instead.

Maine LSV Laws

In order for an LSV to be street legal in Maine, it will need to have the following features and capabilities:

  • Mirrors
  • Horn
  • Turning signals
  • Headlights and brake lights
  • On-road tires
  • An automotive safety windshield
  • Three-point safety harnesses

A certification label from the manufacturer that’s prominently displayed, features a VIN, and indicates that the vehicle is classified as an LSV

When can you drive an LSV and how far can you go?

It is not lawful to drive your LSV at night in man. During the daytime hours, you can drive as far as you want on the roads and streets. You must, however, stay on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less.

What should I carry along with me?

You should have both your vehicle registration and your driver’s license with you, along with the necessary proof of insurance.

What are the penalties for operating an LSV while under the influence?

Getting caught driving an LSV while under the influence is a very serious offense. According to the severity of a first offense, you may be subject to fines ranging between $500 and $2k. For additional offenses, the fines will be higher, points can be taken off your license, and you may face jail time as well.

What happens if an underage LSV driver has an accident?

If a minor LSV driver gets into an accident the consequences will be much similar to those for a minor driver who gets into a crash while operating a cart. Given that it is required for all LSV operators in Maine to have licensing, however, points can be taken off your license and the costs of auto insurance could be higher after an accident.

What should I take to the DMV when registering an LSV?

Before you can register your LSV, you will need to make sure that it has had the proper inspection. You also want to bring your title as proof of property and your bill of sale.

It is important have a license when registering the vehicle, along with proof of insurance, and you will also need to pay the excise tax at the town office.

Sorting through the Maine golf cart and LSV laws is a bit challenging. Being prepared, however, is well worth given that you can avoid running into problems by knowing these regulations.


Maine Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)