Tennessee Golf Cart & Low Speed Vehicle Laws

Last updated on December 26th, 2016

This is an in-depth guide to Tennessee Golf Cart & Low-Speed Vehicle Laws. We’ve created this guide to help you, the consumer, in determining Tennessee’s laws.

Is this state Medium Speed Vehicle friendly? Yes. Requires a Medium-Speed Vehicle Affidavit along with the application for title and registration. (FOUND HERE)

Is License and Registration a Requirement? For LSVs, in order to drive them on public roads, yes. For Golf Carts, no, unless they are specifically designed and manufactured for on-road use or have been modified to meet all of the statutory requirements and safety standards as stated below.

General Federal Law for Golf Carts:

Under current NHTSA interpretations and regulations, so long as golf cars and other similar vehicles are incapable of exceeding 20 miles per hour, they are subject to only state and local requirements regarding safety equipment. However, if these vehicles are originally manufactured so that they can go faster than 20 miles per hour, they are treated as motor vehicles under Federal law.

The standard requires low-speed vehicles to be equipped with headlamps, stop lamps, turn signal lamps, taillamps, reflex reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, seat belts, and vehicle identification numbers.

Find out more information on federal laws pertaining to golf carts and low speed vehicles here.

Tennessee Golf Cart & Low Speed Vehicle Laws

Guidelines for Golf Carts and PTVs (Personal Transportation Vehicles)

In Tennessee, golf carts are defined as the following:

“Golf cart means a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of twenty miles per hour (20 mph).”

Traditional golf carts may not be titled and registered for on-road use unless modified to meet all of the low or medium speed vehicle requirements in Tennessee law and the federal safety standards (see NHTSA above). Since this vehicle is now not a golf cart as defined under Tennessee law, the vehicle may be registered as a low or medium speed vehicle if all requirements are met to be a low or medium speed vehicle.

Individuals modifying a traditional golf cart to meet low-speed vehicle requirements must submit a low-speed affidavit form (FOUND HERE) that certifies the vehicle has been sufficiently modified to meet all low-speed vehicle requirements. The affidavit must be submitted with the registration application as a condition of registration. Clerks are authorized to title and register these vehicles as low-speed vehicles if all documentation requirements are met.

UPDATE IN KNOXVILLE, TN (03/12/18): Beginning April 2nd, 2018, Knoxville City Ordinance requires a permit to drive golf carts on Knoxville city streets. In order to drive a golf cart or off road vehicle on city streets, residents are required to pay a $25 permit fee, be 18 years of age, able to provide proof of insurance and have the vehicle inspected. The inspection looks for proof of insurance, safety flag, a visible safety triangle, and obvious defects that makes the unit unsafe for city streets. Applicants may drive their vehicle to the Knoxville Police Department for the inspection as long as they call 641-828-0541 first to arrange the inspection.

Guidelines for LSV (Low Speed Vehicle)

“Low-speed vehicle” means any four-wheeled electric or gasoline vehicle, excluding golf carts, whose top speed is greater than twenty miles per hour (20 mph), but not greater than twenty-five miles per hour (25 mph), including neighborhood electric vehicles.

LSVs require the following safety equipment:

  • Head Lamps
  • Stop Lamps
  • Front and Rear Turn Signals
  • Tail Lamps
  • Reflectors (one red on each side near the rear and one red on the back)
  • Parking Brake
  • One exterior mirror mounted on the driver’s side of the vehicle and one additional mirror on the passenger side or an interior mirror
  • A windshield meeting the standards outlined in 49 CFR 571.205
  • Seat belts (type 1 or 2) located at each designated seating position
  • A vehicle identification number (VIN) that conforms to provisions outlined in 49 CFR 565

Low-speed vehicles can only be operated on streets where the posted speed limit is thirty-five miles per hour (35 mph) or less. A low-speed vehicle is permitted to cross streets that exceed this thirty-five mile per hour limit. Drivers of low-speed vehicles must have a class D driver’s license in their possession at the time of operation.

Guidelines for MSV (Medium-Speed Vehicles)

“Medium speed vehicle” means any four-wheeled electric or gasoline-powered vehicle, excluding golf carts, whose top speed is greater than thirty miles per hour (30 mph), but not greater than thirty-five miles per hour (35 mph), including neighborhood electric vehicles. Medium speed vehicles must comply with the standards in 49 CFR 571.500.

Medium speed vehicles that meet certain statutory requirements may be titled and registered in Tennessee for use on roads with a speed limit of forty miles per hour (40 mph) or less. Generally, golf carts are excluded, unless they are specifically designed and manufactured for on-road use or have been modified to meet all of the statutory requirements and safety standards outlined in this notice.

Individuals modifying a traditional golf cart to meet medium-speed vehicle requirements must submit a medium-speed affidavit form (FOUND HERE) that certifies the vehicle has been sufficiently modified to meet all medium-speed vehicle requirements.

  • Head Lamps
  • Stop Lamps
  • Front and Rear Turn Signals
  • Tail Lamps
  • Reflectors (one red on each side near the rear and one red on the back)
  • Parking Brake
  • One exterior mirror mounted on the driver’s side of the vehicle and one additional mirror on the passenger side or an interior mirror
  • A windshield meeting the standards outlined in 49 CFR 571.205
  • Seat belts (type 1 or 2) located at each designated seating position
  • A vehicle identification number (VIN) that conforms to provisions outlined in 49 CFR 565

Medium speed vehicles can only be operated on streets where the posted speed limit is forty miles per hour (40 mph) or less. A medium speed vehicle is permitted to cross streets that exceed this forty miles per hour limit. Drivers of medium-speed vehicles must have a class D driver’s license in their possession at the time of operation.

 

HELPFUL LINKS

iltva.org
www.tn.gov – Low Speed Vehicles
www.tn.gov – More on Low Speed Vehicles

Disclaimer
Although each of these state guides gives a thorough approach to the golf cart laws in your state, it is recommended that you perform the research on your own and reach out to your local municipality.

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