121417 Legislature: Bill would put teeth into golf cart laws
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Once banned, golf carts are now common on Pawleys Island.

Legislature: Bill would put teeth into golf cart laws

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The cost to register a golf cart will rise from $5 to $50 under a bill prefiled by state Sen. Stephen Goldfinch. The additional money will go toward road improvements.

But the money is just a talking point, he said. The issue he wants to settle is how the state enforces laws about golf carts on public roads. “The big problem with golf carts is we’ve got laws, there’s not the teeth to actually write a ticket,” Goldfinch said.

The town of Pawleys Island is due to implement a golf cart permit plan in 2018, which it says is necessary to allow police to write traffic tickets on the vehicles. The state Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t have a database of golf cart registrations. That would change under the Goldfinch bill.

“They say they have to have a statutory mandate,” Goldfinch said.

The biggest complaint he has heard is about children driving golf carts. “People are starting to get fed up with it,” Goldfinch said. With a registration database, police would be able to ticket the owners.

Pawleys Island Administrator Ryan Fabbri wasn’t aware of the bill, but said it sounds good. He has already ordered stickers for the town’s permit program. It takes effect Jan. 1, but he noted “this is a transition year.”

The town will charge $10 for the permits.

The $50 fee Goldfinch included in the bill is a holdover from a road funding proposal. “This is just a conversation starter,” he said. He expects DMV will need some money to create a system for reporting golf cart registration information to law enforcement officers.

Another bill prefiled by Goldfinch last week would extend the deadline for changes to the state’s jurisdictional lines along the beachfront to Dec. 31, 2019.

The lines were due to take effect this year, but the proposal was delayed by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control after lawmakers said property owners weren’t given enough time to review and challenge the new lines.

In portions of Pawleys Island and Garden City, the proposed lines would move from the front beach to the second row of houses. Under the current law, adopted by the legislature in 2016, the lines cannot move seaward, part of a “retreat policy” for structures.

The bill will continue the current review process, Goldfinch said.

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