Driving a golf cart on a golf course and driving it on regular roads are not the same thing. Generally, it’s not legal to drive golf carts on public streets unless the vehicle comes with a license plate to show. And before you go about making your cart legal for the street, it’s crucial you know a golf cart’s legal definition and how it’s distinguished from an LSV or low-speed vehicle.

Difference Between a Golf Cart and LSV

What options make one DMV and DOT approved and not the other?

According to Maryland’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), golf carts cannot legally operate on public roadways. The exception being the cart crossing a street to continue its journey to another portion of a golf course or other private property.

Some golf courses could be divided by actual roads. The only city in Maryland that allows golf carts on its roads is Crisfield. It passed a law on April 10, 2018 that permits golf carts to use city roads (both county and state roads).

Complete list of the differences between golf carts and LSVs

  • A golf cart could move at a maximum speed of 20 mph.
  • An LSV can do that slightly better at 25-30 mph.
  • Unlike LSVs, golf carts do not adhere to specific safety standards.
  • Compared to an LSV, a golf cart is considerably cheaper to purchase.
  • LSVs generally have added safety equipment like turn signals, headlights, brake lights and rearview mirrors

Maryland Golf Cart Laws

How old can I be to drive?

Kids who are 12 years or older can drive golf carts in the state, provided they are accompanied by an adult (parent or guardian).

When and how far you can drive (can’t drive at night)?

There are no specific rules or restrictions outlined.

What must I have with me?

Generally, you do not have to register a golf cart in Maryland or require an endorsement or license to use them on Maryland roads.


In most states, including Maryland, you could be charged for DUI if you operate a golf cart under alcohol or drug influence.

Liability dangers of underage drivers getting into accident?

If an underage driver gets into an accident driving a golf cart, the child or his/her parents would be liable for the damages incurred.

LSV Laws in Maryland

What equipment does an LSV need to be street legal? (headlamps, turn signal, rear view, etc.)?

According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), slow-speed vehicles such as an LSV that do not cross the 20 mph mark can be subjected only to local and state safety equipment requirements. If they are manufactured originally to travel faster than 20 mph, they would be considered as conventional motor vehicles.

If your LSV exceeds the 20 mph speed, the law requires it to be fitted with headlamps, turn signal lamps, stop lamps, reflex reflectors, taillamps, rear view mirrors, parking brakes, seat belts, vehicle identification numbers, and windshields.

How old can I be to drive?

You need to be of legal driving age to drive an LSV in Maryland.

When and how far you can drive (can’t drive at night)?

There are no limits on the driving time and distance for an LSV.

What must I have with me (driver license, etc.)?

To drive LSVs in Maryland, you would require a driver’s license, along with title and insurance documents.


Alcohol consumption and driving an LSV simultaneously is illegal in Maryland, like almost every other state.

Liability dangers of underage drivers getting into accident?

Underage drivers are not supposed to drive an LSV on Maryland streets. And if they end up crashing the vehicle, they would be sued for both the damages incurred and the illegal act of driving.

Learn more at Maryland Department of Transportation

Requirements to Register an LSV with the DMV in Maryland

The requirements to register an LSV with Maryland’s motor vehicle administration could vary slightly based on the vehicle condition and place of purchase. In other words, whether the vehicle is used or new or is being purchased from a dealer or non-dealer (private sale) determine the LSV’s registration requirements.

Typically, the registration documents required, along with tax and fee payments, include a certificate of origin, proof of ownership, bill of sale, certificate of title application, and LSV application. Under certain scenarios, additional forms and/or information could be needed, including odometer reading, lien information, and power of attorney.


Not all states in America have the same rules for golf carts and LSVs. For example, what applies in Maryland may not necessarily be applicable in Arkansas or Texas. Therefore, ensure you are completely aware of the laws in Maryland and strictly adhere to them.


Maryland Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)