Washington Golf Cart & Low Speed Vehicle Laws

Last updated on May 30th, 2018

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

Is this state Medium Speed Vehicle friendly? Yes. They may be operated on roads with a posted limit of 35 mph or less; roads with a posted limit of 45 mph or less in island counties connected only by ferry.

Is License and Registration a Requirement? For LSVs, yes. For Golf Carts, no. Golf Carts are not licensable for street use.

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.

 

Washington Golf Cart & Low Speed Vehicle Laws

Guidelines for Golf Carts and PTVs (Personal Transportation Vehicles)

“Golf cart” means a gas-powered or electric-powered four- wheeled vehicle originally designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting purposes and has a speed attainable in one mile of not more than twenty miles per hour. A golf cart is not a nonhighway vehicle or off-road vehicle as defined in RCW 46.09.020.

No Drivers License needed to operate a golf cart, however the driver must be at least 16 years old and have completed a driver education course or have previous experience as a licensed driver.

Golf Carts may be operated on streets with a posted MPH of 25 or less and MUST BE WITHIN a golf cart zone that has been created through a city or county ordinance. Each golf cart zone will be clearly identified by signage at the beginning and end of the golf cart zone on a street or road that is part of the golf cart zone (RCW 46.08.175).

In some areas the following requirements/restrictions for operation of a golf cart may also apply – check with your local city or county to determine if this rule applies in your designated golf cart zone:

  • A person is prohibited from operating a golf cart any time from a half-hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise.
  • A person is prohibited from operating a golf cart in a designated bicycle lane within a golf cart zone.
  • Decals or other identifying device should be displayed at all times on the golf cart in accordance with the city or county ordinance.

Golf Carts must also have the following equipment:

  • Reflectors
  • Seat belts
  • Rearview Mirrors – Must have a review mirror and may also have mirrors on the drivers side and passengers side of the vehicle (a rearview mirror) that must reflect a distance of at least 200 feet

UPDATE (5/30/18): Citizens of Whatcom County please see our article on the 18th Month trial of allowing golf carts on designated city streets.

Guidelines for LSV (Low Speed Vehicle)

Low-Speed Vehicles are for use on roads with speed limits of 35MPH or less and must be registered with valid license plates. A driver’s license is also required.

The following is required for LSVs:

  • 4 wheels
  • Electrically powered
  • 20 mph – 25 mph
  • Headlamps
  • Turn Signals
  • Tail lamps
  • Stop lamps
  • Reflectors – one red on each side to the rear
  • Mirrors – Must have a mirror on the drivers side of the vehicle and at least one additional mirror located on either the passengers side or in the center of the vehicle (a rearview mirror) that must reflect a distance of at least 200 feet
  • Parking Brake
  • Windshield
  • VIN
  • Seat belts

 

Guidelines for MSV (Medium Speed Vehicle)

Medium Speed Vehicles are allowed on roads with speed limits of 35MPH or under and in accordance to state and local restrictions. NOTE: In San Juan County, NEV and MSV vehicles may operate on roads 45 mph or under.

The following is required for MSVs:

    • 4 wheels
    • Electrically powered
    • Roll cage or crush-proof body
    • 25 mph – 35 mph
    • Headlamps
    • Turn Signals
    • Tail lamps
    • Stop lamps
    • Reflectors – one red on each side to the rear
    • Mirrors – Must have a mirror on the drivers side of the vehicle and at least one additional mirror located on either the passengers side or in the center of the vehicle (a rearview mirror) that must reflect a distance of at least 200 feet
    • Parking Brake
    • Windshield
    • VIN
    • Seat belts

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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