What is the difference between a Golf Cart and LSV?

Under New Jersey law, golf carts are primarily designed for recreational use on golf courses. These vehicles are limited to speeds of less than 25 mph on courses.

However, some townships in Jersey do allow golf carts to be driven on roads as long as they are service roads and the speeds do not exceed 25 mph.

In contrast, a Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV) is a street-legal golf cart with headlights, turn signals, and parking breaks. These units are also known as Neighborhood Electrical Vehicles (NEV) and have seatbelts, rearview mirrors, and vehicle identification numbers (VIN).

LSV golf carts can be driven on streets with posted speed limits of 25 mph or less. While they can go above 20 mph, these vehicles are no different than automobiles when it comes to following the traffic rules and regulations.

New Jersey Golf Cart and LSV Laws govern the function, licensing, and operating of these vehicles on gold courses and/or roads. These are mandated by Federal/State of New Jersey regulations which must be adhered to at all times.

Are Golf Carts and LSV Carts DMV and DOT approved?

The New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles/Department of Transportation requires LSV drivers to have valid, current licenses. While these units look different from standard cars, you need a valid driver’s license to operate one.

Similarly, you must register your LSV at the local DPS — DOT center and have it insured as well.

The vehicle cannot be operated by young children and if minors are in the LSV; they must abide by the safety restraint laws of the state. This means wearing seatbelts as they would in passenger vehicles.

Here are some more essentials to keep in mind:

  • Your LSV must be a battery operated cart and not exceed posted speed limits of 25 mph.
  • Some municipalities in New Jersey have a ban of LSV golf carts within the roadways of their jurisdictions. You will need to find out which towns/cities/areas/locales permit LSV golf carts to be driven on side or service roads.
  • LSVs must be NJ DMV/DOT approved and have current insurance, registration, safety equipment, and license to be driven. Similarly, they must pass state inspection each year like regular cars.
  • No license is needed to operate a regular golf cart on a golf course. However, children should not be allowed to operate golf carts due to their lack of driving experience.
  • LSV driving on public streets (permitted by some counties and cities in New Jersey) must abide by the same traffic rules as regular vehicles. This includes stopping at red lights, stop signs, and yielding for other cars and especially human-pet traffic.
  • LSV units can be stopped or inspected by New Jersey State Police and/or local police if the need arises.

Golf cart laws for the State of New Jersey

New Jersey has no provision for the operation of golf cars on public streets. The governing of these vehicles depends on which township, city, and county you are in.

You will have to contact the local DOT- DPS or police station to find out if you can drive an LSV or golf cart in their vicinity.

As with all motor vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles, and mopeds, you should never operate these units under the influence of alcohol. You can be arrested and/or issued a DUI or DWI if driving an LSV or golf cart impaired.

While low-speed vehicles cannot exceed 25 mph, that is still fast enough to cause accidents with other cars or pedestrians.

Keep the following in mind as well:

  • You have to be at least 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license to drive an LSV.
  • You must have your driver’s license, insurance, and registration with you when operating an LSV.
  • You must abide by all traffic rules to avoid tickets and/or moving violations.
  • LSV golf carts can be parked in designated areas of certain parking lots. They may also be parked on the street so long as it falls into a vicinity that permits LSV driving.
  • Any drivers that are underage and caught may be assessed fines. While you can have a learner’s permit at age 16 in New Jersey, it does not allow you to operate a low-speed vehicle.

What are LSV laws in the State of New Jersey?

LSV carts in New Jersey must have headlights, turn signals, parking breaks, seatbelts, and rearview mirrors.

They must be battery operated and cannot drive on roadways with speed limits that exceed 25 mph. This includes the shoulder or service roads.

LSV carts are four-wheeled vehicles that cannot be powered by diesel fuel or gas in New Jersey. These units must comply with federal state safety standards and have the same child restraints as those found in passenger vehicles.

LSV drivers are subject to the same violations as regular vehicle drivers. All LSVs in New Jersey must have the safety information decal located at the rear of the unit. This includes information from the manufacturer about the unit itself.

The license plate should be visible in the rear of the LSV as mandated by state and federal transportation law.

What do you need to register for an LSV at the DPS?

You will need a valid form of identification (driver’s license, state ID, etc.) to register an LSV at the DPS.

The registration can be done in the name of an individual or business. It can also be registered in the name of a government entity but LSVs are not allowed to be used as commercial vehicles in New Jersey.

New Jersey Golf Cart and LSV Laws are not as rigid as other states but do follow federal guidelines to a tee. If you love playing golf and are at least 16-17 years of age, you do not need a license to drive a car. However, you must be 18 to operate a low-speed vehicle in the Garden State.


New Jersey Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)