That One Time I Nearly Went to Jail for Driving My Golf Car

Several years ago, my business, WHEELZ, had the pleasure of being a sponsor for a regional Hooters Pro Fishing event. We had a big booth set up with five or six custom golf cars on display. The live band was rockin’, kids were patiently waiting for face painting, the beer was flowing, and the pro fisherman and Hooters girls were signing autographs. The sun was blazing and everything was right with the world on that perfect day in SW Florida.

A woman and her husband approached the booth and asked to go on a ride in one of the shiny, lifted golf cars. Happy to oblige, we all grabbed our bottles of beer and hopped on the golf car. Cruising around the parking lot drew a lot of attention from event goers and several passersby. We made a large loop and were headed back towards the event when we crossed over an alleyway.

From around the corner of the alley came the flashing lights and stern looking police officer. To say that I was worried would be an understatement. The officer approached the golf car and asked for my ID, which I didn’t have. It was back in my purse at the booth. He asked me if the bottle of beer in the cup holder was mine and I replied that it was. Then, I got really scared.

Apparently, it is frowned upon to operate a golf car while drinking a bottle of beer. Furthermore, I was advised that I could be charged with a DUI! I honestly had no idea. As long as I was cruising the parking lot, I was moderately safe, but as soon as I crossed over the alleyway, which was considered a public road, I was fair game. The understanding officer agreed to let me go if I poured out my beer and headed back to the booth.

WHEW! That was a close call.

Is a Golf Car a Motor Vehicle?

On that day I learned that whether or not a golf car is considered to be a motor vehicle for purposes of registration and insurance bears no relevance on the fact that it is considered to be a motor vehicle for the purposes of a DUI. A court ruling in Missouri (Covert v. DOR) determined that golf cars are considered to be motor vehicles when evaluating a DUI conviction.

Do Police Officers Actually Arrest Golf Car Drivers for DUI?

It would seem that I am not the only golf car driver who was unaware that DUIs can extend to operating a golf car. I was lucky, but these folks were not:

  • Ted Nugent’s drummer was arrested for a DUI in Maine when they noticed that he was driving a golf car he had “borrowed” from the event center.
  • An Ohio man whose driver’s license had previously been revoked decided to drive his golf car to his friend’s wedding and was arrested for a DUI on the way.
  • Actor Bill Murray was arrested in Sweden for driving a golf car through downtown Stockholm while under the influence.

Lesson learned. Humor aside, golf cars are motor vehicles that have the potential to be operated at high speeds with few protections. Remember to operate your golf cars safely and without the influence of alcohol or drugs.

About the Author: The Owner of WHEELZ Custom Carts & Accessories, Julie Starr was one of the industry’s first online retailers of golf car products. Her eCommerce store, www.WHEELZLLC.com, has been serving golf car owners since 2008 and the store remains a popular online shopping experience for golf car owners who want to take their golf cars to the next level.

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