Upon first glance, you may not know the difference between a golf cart and a low-speed vehicle (LSV). In reality, the two are very different. They are built differently; they have different features, and the laws between the two are different.

Golf Carts

Golf carts are often used on golf courses for playing golf. They are also used to travel through parking lots, private land, apartment complexes and other non-public areas.

A golf cart can reach a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. They can be modified to go faster; however, they aren’t built to do so. They often don’t have headlights, brake lights, or turn signals. You can buy kits to have these things installed, but if these are the features that you want, you should go with an LSV.

Low-Speed Vehicles (LSV)

An LSV can reach a maximum speed of up to 25 miles per hour. They have headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and seatbelts. They also have better brake performance than a golf cart. Low-speed vehicles have these additional features so that they can be driven on public streets.

Golf carts are not DMV, or DOT approved, yet low-speed vehicles are. This is because low-speed vehicles have safety features that golf carts don’t including:

  • Headlights
  • Brake lights
  • Turn signals
  • Seat belts
  • Advanced braking system
  • Reflectors

What Are the South Carolina Golf Cart Laws?

In South Carolina, there are certain laws regarding driving a golf cart.

Age: To legally drive a golf cart, you need to be 16-years-old and have your driver’s license. Even if you have an adult sitting next to you, it is still illegal to drive unless you are a licensed driver.

When And Where Can you Drive? In South Carolina, golf carts can only be driven during daylight hours. During these hours, you can drive on secondary highways and streets. There is also a limit on the distance that you can drive your golf cart, which is four miles from the address listed on the golf cart’s registration.

What Do You Need To Carry While Driving? If you are driving on your property, you don’t need to carry anything. If you are driving on public roadways, you will need to carry documentation with you.

When driving your golf cart, you are going to need to keep your license with you. You will also need to obtain a permit from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles and carry it with you at all times. Finally, you should carry proof of liability insurance.

Alcohol: You are not legally allowed to drink while driving your golf cart. You also aren’t allowed to drive your golf cart while under the influence. If you are caught, you can be charged with a DUI.

What Are the Liability Dangers Of Underage Drivers Getting Into An Accident? If your underage child gets into an accident, you can be held criminally liable for endangering them. You can also be held financially responsible for any damage that your child causes.

What Are the Low-Speed Vehicle Laws In South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the laws for driving an LSV differ from a golf cart in a few ways.

What Equipment Does An LSV Need To Be Street Legal? Homemade LSV’s cannot be driven on the street. In order for an LSV to be street legal, it would need to have headlights, tail lights, turn signals,  and seat belts. Your LSV must also have rear view mirrors, side view mirrors, and windshield wipers. Finally, it will need a speedometer and a horn.

How Old Do I Need To Drive An LSV? To legally drive an LSV, you need to be at least 16-years-old and a valid driver’s license.

When and How Far Can You Drive An LSV? You can drive an LSV at any time, even after dark. With a permit, you can drive your LSV on streets and roadways. They can be driven on highways as long as the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. There is no limit regarding how far you can drive your LSV.

What Must I Have When Driving My LSV? To legally drive your LSV, you would need to carry your driver’s license. You will also need to carry your permit and proof of insurance.

Alcohol? Drinking while driving your LSV is strictly forbidden and illegal. Also, you cannot operate an LSV while under the influence. If you are caught, you will be arrested for driving under the influence.

What Are the Liability Dangers Of Underage Drivers Getting Into An Accident? If an underage driver gets into an accident while driving your LSV, you would be held criminally responsible for child endangerment. If the child causes any damage during the accident, you would be held financially responsible.

Learn more at South Carolina Department of Transportation.

What Do You Need For the Department Of Motor Vehicles To Register An LSV?

To register an LSV, there is certain documentation that you will need to take to the DMV.

  • Driver’s license
  • The title or manufacturer’s certificate of origin
  • Completed Form 400- Application for Certificate of Title/Registration
  • Form TI-007- The application for a low-speed vehicle
  • Proof that the casual sales tax was paid
  • Proof of liability insurance

You also need to pay $15 for the title and $40 for the registration fee.

Golf Cart or LSV?

If you aren’t sure whether you should buy a golf cart or an LSV, think about what you are going to be using it for. If you are going to be driving during the day, a golf cart would be fine. If you want the freedom of driving whenever you want, you should go with an LSV.

If you want the freedom to drive as far as you like, you should go with an LSV. Golf carts can only be driven four miles from your home.

Finally, if you want more speed, go with an LSV as they are faster than golf carts.


South Carolina Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)