Elba Police address complaints of golf carts and 4-wheelers on city roadways


Thursday, May 04,2017

The operation of golf carts and ATV’s [4-wheelers] on city streets has become a popular thing; however, Elba Police Chief Freddy Hanchey said it is actually illegal to operate these type vehicles on the streets unless they meet certain requirements.
“Our department recently has had an increased number of complaints of off-road vehicles [golf carts and 4-wheelers] being operating on city streets,” Chief Hanchey said. “These vehicles are intended for off-road use only.”
While the chief said citing citizens and youngsters for the operation of these type vehicles is not something his department necessarily wants to have to do, it is important for all to realize that unless certain requirements are met golf carts and 4-wheelers can not be allowed on the roadways.
The chief said the very first thing is that the golf cart/4-wheeler must have a tag to be legally on the roadway. Secondly, he reminds citizens that a youngster must be at least 16 years of age to operate a vehicle on the roadways.
Furthermore, Hanchey said the City of Elba has an ordinance in place, which states if a person is caught operating a vehicle without a driver’s license, that vehicle shall be impounded immediately.
“To get an impounded vehicle back, the owner must show proof of ownership, vehicle registration, and proof of liability insurance coverage,” Hanchey said. “Also, not only could the operator of the vehicle be cited if caught, but if the operator is under age, the adult allowing the minor to operate it could also be cited.”
The state’s department of revenue clarifies vehicles such as golf carts and ATV’s [as well as dune buggies, UTV’s, rail buggies, etc.] as low speed vehicles. In a 2012 memorandum from Jay Starling, assistant director of the motor vehicle division, it stated the following in regards to low speed vehicles, “low speed vehicles may only be operated on public roads if they are certified as meeting all federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations governing safety, emissions, and antitheft standards. Accordingly, the license plate issuing official must verify the following information before registering a low speed vehicle. The low speed vehicle must have a 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) which conforms to National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration (NHTSA) standards, and the manufacturer’s statement of origin (MSO) must state that the vehicle complies with the safety standards for a low speed vehicle or that the vehicle complies with Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) section 571.500. The manufacturer will also affix a decal certifying that the vehicle meets these standards.”
The memo further points out, “often the MSO or bill of sale will reflect that the low speed vehicle is for off road use only, which indicates that the low speed vehicle cannot be licensed for use on the roadways. If the MSO or bill of sale states “off road use only” the vehicle cannot be registered.
“If the golf cart or 4-wheeler in question does not meet the requirements to receive a tag for the vehicle, it cannot be on our roadways,” Chief Hanchey said. “The probate office officials would be required to inspect the vehicle to see if it has all the necessary features to meet the standards set forth.”
According to Alabama Code, the registration of motor vehicles not subject to titling includes a dune buggy, golf cart, UTV (Utility Task Vehicle), ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle). Because these generally are not manufactured to comply with federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations governing safety, emissions, and antitheft standards, they cannot be titled or registered in Alabama unless the vehicle meets the following requirements:
• must include horns and warning devices – must be equipped with horn in good working order capable of emitting a sound audible under normal conditions for a distance of not less than 200 feet;
• mirrors – every vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such vehicle;
• windshield wipers – windshield shall be equipped with a device for cleaning rain, snow or other moisture form the windshield; every windshield wiper shall be maintained in good working order;
• head lamps on motor vehicles – (exception is motorcycle or motor-driven cycle) shall be equipped with at least two head lamps with at least one on each side of the front of the motor vehicle;
• tail lamps – shall be equipped with at least one tail lamp mounted on the reach, which when lighted emits a red light plainly visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear;
• stop lamps – required on new motor vehicles;
• safety belts – must be equipped with safety belts that meet specifications prescribed by the Department of Public Safety;
• requirements for tire equipment;
• rear tags required – shall at all times keep attached and plainly visible on the rear end of the vehicle a license plate as prescribed and furnished by the Department of Revenue;
• liability insurance required – all vehicles operated on the roadways must be covered by a liability insurance policy, motor vehicle liability bond, or deposit of cash.
“We are asking our citizens to adhere to the rules regarding golf carts, 4-wheelers and other low speed vehicles,” Chief Hanchey said. “Also, we are asking parents to ensure that their children also adhere to the law regarding operating these vehicles.”
The chief again stressed that while his department does not relish having to enforce this matter regarding golf carts and 4-wheelers, the law is the law, and it states that unless these type vehicles meet certain requirements they cannot be operated on the roadways.
“With the number of increased complaints recently, it is necessary for us [Elba Police] to address the matter.”