The Starke County Commissioners are considering an ordinance to regulate the operation of golf carts on county roads. First, a golf cart operator must possess a county-issued small vehicle permit and carry liability insurance on the vehicle. Permits can be obtained for a cost of $25 each from the Starke County Sheriff’s Office after the vehicle is inspected. Starke County will also honor permits issued by Marshall County, once the proposed ordinance becomes law. The permit is unique to a single vehicle, which must have brakes in good working condition and an INDOT approved slow-moving vehicle sign. Additionally, golf carts must be equipped with a rear-view mirror, manufacturers serial number plate, front and rear reflectors and working rear brake lights visible from at least 500 feet.
Golf carts can’t be operated on county roads between dusk and dawn unless they are equipped with headlights and taillights. Vehicles that meet those specifications can only be driven on county roads until 11 p.m. No golf carts can be operated on county roads during inclement weather or any other time when visibility is impaired. Drivers are also required to comply with the rules of the road and yield the right-of-way to faster-moving vehicles. All operators must be at least 16 and hold a valid driver’s license, and the number of passengers is limited to the number of adult seats in the vehicle. Children must be properly supervised by a responsible adult. Violations of the proposed ordinance will be subject to fines of up to $250.
The ordinance does include exemptions for county government activities for employees, agents and county officials who are engaged in county government business. Temporary exceptions may be granted by the sheriff to accommodate parades, festivals and other special events. The ordinance was prompted by residents of Bass Lake and Koontz Lake who desire to drive golf carts in their communities. However, the rules set forth by the county do not apply to state highways like 10 and 23.