A new state law requiring registration and insurance for most golf cars doesn’t yet affect Columbia County residents.
The law, which took effect Jan. 1, creates a separate classification for personal transportation vehicles. Those vehicles are described as having a minimum of four wheels, capable of speeds no more than 20 miles per hour, able to carry up to eight passengers and weighing less than 1,375 pounds.
Those vehicles, according to the law, would require registration, insurance and safety equipment, including front and rear lights, mirrors, lap belts and brakes.
That description overlaps largely with motorized carts, described as having at least three wheels and weighing no more than 1,300 pounds. According to the law, motorized carts do not require registration and insurance.
“Therein lies the confusion,” Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.
Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen said she knows nothing about the new law, which required the personal transportation vehicles to be registered and tagged through her office. The registration is more confusing because of the need for titles and a place to affix the tag onto the registered vehicle.
Allen has gotten no instructions about the registration process from the Georgia Association of Tax Officials or the state Department of Revenue.
“An ordinance has to be passed by the governing authority of this jurisdiction for this law to go into effect,” Allen said.
Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross said county officials have no immediate intention of creating an ordinance.
“We’ve really got to get a better understanding about the law before we’re going to do anything,” he said.
Morris said he expects state lawmakers will clarify the law. Until then, he said deputies will continue enforcing the county’s current laws regulating golf cars, ATVS, dirt bikes, go carts and other motorized vehicles.
Those vehicles are only allowed to be driven in neighborhoods – roadways that are not state highways and those with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. The driver must be at least 16 and licensed.
The golf cars and other motorized recreational vehicles are forbidden from the road shoulders, ditches and county rights-of-way, Morris said.
Safety equipment, including mirrors and lights, are recommended but are required only at night. Insurance also is optional, but recommended, Morris said.