“No one has the right to use a golf cart or ATV on a roadway in Okeechobee County, and we enforce the laws when we know about the infraction, but we do try to educate first,” he explained.
The State of Florida does have a statue on the books allowing the use of ATVs on unpaved roadways during daylight hours where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less, BUT by law, a county may opt out, and if they choose to do this, it becomes illegal to ride on any public roadway, paved or unpaved. Okeechobee, along with many other counties, opted out several years ago.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says golf carts are not considered ATVs, and may only be operated on roadways designated for golf carts. By design, a golf cart cannot maintain a speed greater than 20 mph. They are not titled or registered, and operators must be at least 14 years old.
Off-highway vehicles (OHVs) may only be operated on unpaved public roadways where the posted speed limit is less than 35 mph and only during daylight hours. They must be operated by licensed drivers or by a minor who is accompanied by a licensed adult and who has proof of satisfactory completion of an OHV safety course. OHVs are titled but not registered and need not be insured.
Low Speed Vehicles are vehicles that can reach a maximum speed of between 20 and 25 mph. They must be registered, titled and insured and may only be operated on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less. They must also have safety equipment such as a windshield, exterior mirrors, seat belts, headlamps, parking brakes, reflex reflectors, tail lights and stop lights.
Sheriff Stephen said riding ATVs or golf carts in town is considered a low-priority crime because there are only so many hours in a day, but they do write tickets in town for driving a golf cart on the roadway.
“As a matter of fact,” he said. “We wrote one just the other day in the Publix parking lot.”
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According to Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel E. Stephen, there have been numerous complaints in recent months about people in town using golf carts or ATVs on the roadways, but Sheriff Stephen says that contrary to popular belief, his department does enforce the laws in every community, not just on the Prairie.