Can You Get a DUI While Driving a Golf Cart in Florida?

The answer to this question is yes.  


In Florida, it is against the law to be driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within the state and while under the influence of alcohol or a chemical substance when affected to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired. It is also illegal to be in actual control of a vehicle when the driver has a blood or breath alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. (Florida Statute 316.193) 


Florida law classifies more than cars and trucks as vehicles for purposes of the DUI laws. In addition to the motor vehicles that typically come to mind when discussing DUI, Florida also defines a golf cart as “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 20 miles per hour.” (Florida Statute 316.003(29) and 320.01(22)) 


You may have noticed that the words “within the state” are in italics in the first sentence of this blog post. We emphasize these three words to highlight that a driver can be arrested and prosecuted for a DUI in Florida even though they are not on a public road or highway. A golf cart DUI could be filed against an alleged golf cart driver who was operating the golf cart on private property.  



Penalties for Golf Cart DUI in Florida 


Driving under the influence of alcohol or another chemical substance when affected to the extent that the driver’s normal faculties are impaired carries the same penalties whether the vehicle involved is a sports car, a motorcycle, a pickup truck, or a golf cart.  


The law provides that a Golf Cart DUI in Florida carries the following penalties: 


  • 1st Offense — Up to 6 months in jail, 1-year probation, $500 – $1,000 fine, license suspension for 180 days minimum, vehicle impound 10 days, 50 hours of community service, complete DUI school, substance abuse eval. and treatment


  • 2nd Offense (within 5 years) — Minimum 10 days to 9 months in jail, up to a $2,000 fine, and a 5-year license suspension, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for one year, completion of DUI school, and a substance abuse evaluation and treatment if indicated,


  • Penalties for a third offense are more severe, with a fourth offense becoming a 3rd-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in state prison and permanent revocation of the driver’s license.


A Note About License Suspension 


In Florida, a golf cart is classified as a motor vehicle that is not equipped to exceed 20 miles per hour and can be operated on limited types of roadways but not on public highways. Because of their low speed and prohibition from public highways, no driver’s license is required to operate a golf cart legally.  


A golf cart DUI still carries a license suspension as part of the criminal penalty and triggers an independent civil administrative suspension hearing at the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. 


Probable Cause Is Still Required for Police to Make a Golf Cart DUI Arrest 


Whether you are driving a car, a truck, or a golf cart, the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Florida protect every individual from “unreasonable” search and seizure by police. Unless the police have a lawful warrant, they cannot compel a golf cart driver to stop unless they have “reasonable articulable suspicion” that a violation of law occurred.  


In the context of a golf cart DUI, the police could compel the driver to stop and pull over if they observed the golf cart being operated recklessly, driving on a road on which golf carts are not permitted, or being driven by a person holding an open container of alcohol or smoking cannabis.  


Once stopped, a golf cart driver cannot be arrested without probable cause. That means the police would need to conduct the same investigation and collect the same evidence that would be needed to arrest and prosecute any other suspected drunk driver operating a motor vehicle on the highway. 


Defenses to Golf Cart DUI 


Golf cart DUI charges are as serious and disruptive to the driver’s life as any other DUI case. The fact that a defendant allegedly drove a golf cart instead of a pickup truck is of no consequence to the law.  


A conviction for a golf cart DUI results in the same criminal and civil penalties, social stigma, and disadvantages in employment, housing, and access to credit as DUIs involving other vehicles. 


As experienced DUI defense lawyers representing a high volume of DUI clients, Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law in Tampa, are highly skilled in challenging DUI prosecutions. Analyzing every aspect of the initial DUI stop, the officer’s interaction with the driver, the way field sobriety tests were administered, the video evidence, and the conduct of any breath or chemical tests give Ben Stechschulte and Amy Nell the detailed facts they need to suppress the use of tainted evidence in court. 


DUI prosecutions are extremely technical and require far more scientific and specialized knowledge on the part of defense counsel than people imagine. DUI defense attorneys possess a higher level of expertise in defending DUI charges than lawyers with less actual DUI defense experience. 


Read More > What is the “Vehicle in Motion” Phase of DUI Detection? 


Contact Stechschulte Nell Law  


If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced DUI attorneys at Stechschulte Nell Law. We are ready to defend your case.  


Call us at 813-280-1244 for a FREE DUI case review today.  

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