There have been a number of headlines recently about the decline in drunk driving rates. However, it is troubling to see the rising number of drunk driving incidents and serious injuries on golf carts and other motorized vehicles. According to Golf Digest, an internet search of “golf+cart+alcohol+death” will yield over 385,000 results using a popular internet search engine. A couple of these golf cart DUI incidents have appeared as national news headlines.
Just last year, an intoxicated man with a stolen golf cart caused a huge traffic nightmare when he drove a nine-person golf cart down a busy Interstate 210 in Pasadena after the Rose Bowl game. After a slow chase for several miles, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) police were finally able to stop the golf cart and detain the man. He was charged with a DUI, among other offenses.
Another incident occurred in 2015, when an elderly couple were found drunk and passed out on a lawn at an upscale PGA golf course in La Quinta, California. According to the Riverside County Sheriff's Office, the two individuals were passed out near their damaged golf cart. The golf cart's damage was consistent with having been driven into a tree and into the front of a parking garage. The 71-year-old man was booked into jail under suspicion of driving his golf cart under the influence of alcohol.
Other U.S. states are seeing upticks in these types of DUIs as well. In the popular Florida retirement community The Villages, near Orlando, there has been a large increase in DUIs and a total of 13 golf cart related fatalities in the last 6 years. In an effort to crack down on the drunken golf cart driving problem, the local newspaper has started a weekly column for the community's DUI arrests and the police department has stepped up enforcement and monitoring for intoxicated cart drivers.
The head of the Sumter County Florida Sheriff's Office, which polices a section of The Villages community stated, "Once we make our approach it doesn't matter if you're on a golf course or your own driveway, it's all fair game as far as open-container and DUI charges that may apply."
In Peachtree City, Georgia, there are over 100 miles of golf cart lanes in town and golf carts are a popular mode of transportation for retirees who live there. This popularity has also led to spike in drunk driving incidents. In 2013, the city reported that over 18% of the DUIs for the city were by individuals driving golf carts on public roads and walkways. In an effort to combat DUIs, the city has started late night “police checkpoints” to flag intoxicated golf cart drivers.
Most states drunk driving rules incorporate language in their rules that includes golf carts and California is no exception. The language in the law includes all motorized vehicles, which would include most golf carts. And like any other vehicle, any time the keys are in the ignition of a golf cart, the driver can be arrested and charged with DUI in the State of California.
Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Armando Munoz stated, "People make the assumption that because it's a golf cart, they don't consider it a vehicle. California vehicle code does consider a golf cart a vehicle. So it has to have a windshield, brake lights, mirrors, turn signals, red light indicators in the rear. Anything that a vehicle that's driven in a public road, same applies to a golf cart."
At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending drivers charged with a DUI in the East Bay. With over 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands how a DUI conviction can affect your future, and how to fight to keep a conviction off your record. If you are a driver facing a DUI, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.