In February 2004, HB 388 was signed into law by Governor Bill Richardson. This law allows LSVs on New Mexico roadways with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less and requires drivers to possess a valid driver’s license.

There has been a lot of misunderstanding about the use of LSVs versus golf carts. Below is a summary of the important facts you need to know.

What is the difference between a Golf Cart and LSV?

What Options Make One DMV and DOT Approved and Not the Other?

An LSV is DOT and DMV approved because it has the same registration, inspection, and insurance requirements as other vehicles on the road while a golf cart does not have these requirements.  A registered license plate is required on an LSV. You also need a valid driver’s license to drive it.

An LSV requires regular automobile insurance such as PIP or no-fault coverage at a minimum. However, it is also recommended to have bodily injury, medical payments, and uninsured motorist covers. These are not necessary for a golf cart. If it has to be insured, motorcycle insurance can be used.

Complete List of the Differences

Under New Mexico Golf Cart and LSV Laws, a golf cart is designed for recreational use on a golf course. It is illegal to drive an unconverted cart on a public road. However, LSVs can be used on public roads. LSVs are used for yard work, hunting, grounds keeping, and campus security among other functions. They are common in rural towns and national parks.

Golf carts have a maximum speed limit of 20 miles per hour while for LSVs it is usually no more than 25 miles per hour. Golf carts are generally cheaper than LSVs by a few thousand dollars. They lack the fundamental safety features that make LSVs street legal.

The total weight of an LSV is limited to 3,000 pounds. It has better built and functionality than a golf cart. Most LSVs come street legal from the factory. For most carts, they don’t come street legal from the factory. You need to make them street legal.

What Are The Golf Cart Laws For The State Of New Mexico?

  • According to the New Mexico Golf Cart and LSV Laws, you need to be at least 15 years old to drive a golf cart. You can only drive it within a golf course.
  • In New Mexico, a golf cart can only be operated during the hours between sunrise and sunset. Nighttime driving is not permitted. The statute also requires the cart to have safe tires, reliable steering, and efficient brakes.
  • You need a driver’s license to drive a golf cart. You must never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Always drive on heightened alert. You should not be texting and driving.
  • Liability Dangers of Underage Drivers Getting Into Accidents
  • Parents of underage drivers can be held liable for accidents caused by their children. As a parent, you should make sure that your child observes all the safety standards when driving.

What are the LSV laws in the state of New Mexico?

New Mexico LSV and golf cart laws stipulate that an LSV needs certain equipment to be street legal. These include:

  • Vehicle Identification number plate
  • Parking brakes
  • Seatbelts
  • Headlights
  • Turn signals
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Horns

LSVs must only be operated on streets with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less. It is illegal to use them on streets with a speed limit of over 35 mph.

You need to be at least 15 years old and possess a valid driver’s license to drive an LSV. You must not drive at night and you should never drive under the influence or text while driving. The LSV should be fully insured.

Liability Dangers of Underage Drivers Getting Into Accident

Parents of underage drivers take an enormous financial risk every time their underage child drives an LSV. You can be held liable for the negligent acts of your child. Most parents are not aware of the extent of the liability.

You can bear the highest liability possible under New Mexico Laws. You can pay millions of dollars in punitive damages for allowing your child to drive an LSV.

Why should you be liable for an LSV accident caused by your underage child? That is because you were the person in the best position to prevent the accident by not allowing your child to get behind the wheel.

What you need for the Department of Motor Vehicles to Register an LSV

You need a Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) form, a manufacturer’s certificate/ statement of origin, and an Application for Title form to register an LSV with the Department of Motor Vehicles. You must also pay registration fees.

Overall Summary

Golf cart and LSV laws vary from state to state. You need to understand the legal definition of a golfing cart according to local laws. You should also understand what differentiates it from a Low-Speed Vehicle.


New Mexico Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)