Ordinance Modernization

Since Q2 – 2018 Dunedin Goes Carting residents have been partnering with and advising the city staff and commission on the challenges that residents report, the navigational issues, and resident recommendations for improvement and attention. Jerry Dabcowski, our city’s traffic consultant, convinced the city staff and commission that he knew of a method to achieve an FDOT-acceptable legal cart crossing of 580. The city staff and one commissioner traveled to Tallahassee to meet with FDOT and to argue in support of this.  In general, the City and Staff have been working very hard to support residents and business owner’s desire to expand and improve street-legal cart navigation within the city.

Why was this so important? You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice: Dunedin, being a high-profile tourist village that is not a self-contained retirement mecca, and its street-legal usage of golf carts, is now known in many places around the country. Ask any Dunedin realtor, and they will tell you one of the questions potential buyers usually raise at any showing is: “Is this house in a golf cart zone”?  It’s no longer just a cute pastime, it has a become an economical, cultural and ecological benchmark.  Looking around Pinellas county, other cities have been taking notice and following suit quickly.

Winning this status also comes with its downside. Dunedin has become quite challenging for residents driving golf carts, even for those that have utilized the provision since its inception.  Dangerous crossings forced by antiquated FDOT dogma, confusing or vague signage sometimes posted or changed without public announcement that even leaves our law enforcement baffled, and a zone map bereft of granularity and detail all compile to create confusion and frustration.

In the background, however, the State of Florida has also been updating state laws commensurate with urban and suburban development all driven by a new generation of residents and business leaders.  The State of Florida has long recognized LSVs, or low speed vehicles, as legitimate motor vehicles. They also explain precisely how to modify similar vehicles, like more capable golf carts, to meet the standard of the LSV category. Some very recent tweaks to the Florida statute now make the LSV law much more clear and simpler to follow. Because these are state registered motor vehicle laws, they often preempt local ordinances when followed precisely.

If you decide to go with the full Monty (we mean the British definition!) it can considerably simplify the rules you need to know and follow.  It also significantly enhances your freedom in driving these efficient low-impact vehicles. It does elevate your cost of operation though. In this article we will step through the very latest statute updates by the State of Florida, including the actual link to the official legislation. Then, we will step through the vehicle standards the state has prescribed. This choice is not for everyone, but more and more residents are choosing this route to simplify their lives and leave the nonsense behind.

Florida Statute 320.01 (14) – Defines a Low Speed Vehicle, or “LSV”

Florida Statute 316.2122 – Defines the legal operation of a Low Speed Vehicle, or “LSV”

Let’s begin with the State of Florida’s definition of a Low Speed Vehicle, or “LSV”.  The State of Florida recognizes an LSV or a golf cart modified to meet the standards of the LSV category as an official motor vehicle just like your car or truck.  As such, it will have an actual FMVSS 115, Part 565 compliant, 17-digit VIN number – not to be confused with a serial number or other manufacturer part number. This is a real VIN number, just as it appears on the actual state title of your LSV. If you purchased a real LSV from a dealer, it will come with a Florida State Vehicle title (just like your car or truck) and have a state-approved 17-digit VIN label physically placed on the vehicle.

In this case, you need to do nothing more than to take your title and your driver’s license down to any vehicle registry and register it just like your car or truck. And, just like your car or truck, you will need to show proof of state minimum 10/10 insurance (PDL and PIP). If you are not transferring a tag from another vehicle you own to the LSV, then you can expect to pay the first-time registration / title fee in addition to the typical vehicle registration and plate fees. After that, you will need to renew your registration just like you would on your car or truck.     You’re done!

If you choose to modify and upgrade a capable golf cart to meet the State LSV category standard, the state has provided a very clear set of requirements. All of them can be found in Florida’s Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles official document:


These modifications include:

  • The vehicle must reach a speed of 20 MPH, but not more than 25 MPH.
  • Have seat belts for every seating position on the machine.
  • Dual exterior mirrors, or a rear-view mirror AND driver’s side exterior mirror.
  • A solid high-impact polycarbonate windshield that displays the DOT-Approved etching in a lower corner. A folding golf cart wind screen is not accepted.
  • Headlights, tail lights, brake lights, front and rear turn signals, and reflex reflectors.
  • A parking brake.
  • DOT-rated tires.

You will need to complete and have the following forms:

  • Form SMV 84490 (Statement of Builder) completed by you. The compliance examiner / inspector will also complete sections on this form.
  • Form HSMV 86064 (Affidavit for Golf Cart Modification to Low Speed Vehicle)
  • Form HSMSV 82040 (Application for Title)
  • Proof of state minimum insurance (10/10 PDL and PIP)

You will need to trailer your modified LSV to a local Motorist Services Regional Office to have the machine inspected and to begin the process of titling the vehicle. You will pay an inspection fee and receive an official 17-digit motor vehicle VIN label, and a State of Florida motor vehicle title.

From there, you take your new title, proof of insurance, and driver’s license down to any local vehicle registry and register your vehicle like any other car or truck.    You’re done!

If this seems like a lot of work, it can be; depending on how much modification is needed. Also, it is initially a bit costly – but only once. The flip side is that when you have a cart that is a real LSV, discerning buyers will pay more. The key word here is real LSV, or a vehicle modified to meet the LSV standard. There are many people with heavily modified carts that go fast – but if they don’t have every item defined on this list by the State of Florida including an official title and FMVSS 115, Part 565 compliant 17-digit VIN, they are not an actual LSV.  They are still just jacked up golf carts.

The nearest Motor Services Regional Office and inspection station is located at:

[Region 6]

Motor Vehicle Field Operations

NET PARK, Suite 2228

5701 East Hillsborough Avenue

Tampa, Florida 33610

Telephone: (813) 612- 7110

Fax:            (813) 612- 7111

Okay, so whether your LSV was bought or upgraded, you now have a real registered motor vehicle. What can you do with it and where can you go?  The answer is you can drive it anywhere in Florida, defined by the LSV statute 316.2122.  For that matter, you can trailer it to other popular locations like Key West or Cedar Key and use it when you’re on a stay-cation, it sure blows away renting a local scooter.

Let’s dive into that statute with a scalpel. Dunedin Goes Carting brought this to legal council Cathy Sutamaria, Esq. to help ensure we were disseminating the proper interpretation of this relatively simple statute.  Here’s where the beauty of the State Statute for LSVs really comes into its own. The first line really defines the characteristics of the legislation, including its most recent modifications.

State LSV Laws

You can reference the official legislation here:


316.2122  Operation of a low-speed vehicle or mini truck on certain roadways.  – The operation of a low-speed vehicle as defined in s. 320.01 or a mini truck as defined in s. 320.01 on any road is authorized with the following restrictions:

** Let’s pause here, because there is often confusion on one very important point in this legislation and it is the word and phrase “any road”.  The legislation will go on to define one more limiting criterion, but what is important here is that it doesn’t matter if the road is a highway, an interstate, a state road, a surface street, a county road, or a rural road.  The legislation is clear: any road.

316.2122 (1)  – A low speed vehicle or mini truck may be operated only on streets where the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. This does not prohibit a low speed vehicle or mini truck from crossing a road or street at an intersection where the road or street has a posted speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour.

** The critical details here are:

  • You may drive an LSV on ANY road with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. “Any” means any. There are no exceptions. Said differently, all public roads in Florida that are 35 MPH or less may be legally traveled by a fully licensed, compliant, LSV.
  • You are not prohibited from crossing any road, with any posted speed; provided the roads you are traveling from and to have posted speeds of 35 MPH or less.

Details make the difference. Let’s continue…

316.2122 (2) – A low-speed vehicle must be equipped with headlamps, stop lamps, turn signal lamps, taillamps, reflex reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, seat belts, and vehicle identification numbers.

** There should not need to be much discussion here. If you are modifying / upgrading a golf cart to meet the LSV standard, then these modifications are subject to the inspection and approval of the state vehicle inspector at the office mentioned earlier.

316.2122 (3) – A low-speed vehicle or mini truck must be registered and insured in accordance with s. 320.02 and titled pursuant to chapter 319.

** Again, very straight forward. If you have gone through either of the processes mentioned earlier then you already have a normal vehicle tag displayed on your machine. Make sure that you always keep proof of state minimum 10/10 motor vehicle insurance on you when operating the vehicle.

The dynamic has changed; you are now driving an actual motor vehicle, just like your car or truck. Buckle your seat belts. Their use is required when operating a motor vehicle in the State of Florida.


316.2122 (4) – Any person operating a low speed vehicle or mini truck must have in his or her possession a valid driver license.

** This statement is extremely clear.


316.2122 (5) – A county or municipality may prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles or mini-trucks on any road under its jurisdiction if the governing body of the county or municipality determines that such prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.

** This provides municipalities with the freedom to leverage home rule to the extent of the roads under their jurisdiction and with a documented determination of safety risk.

You should have a reasonable expectation, as a driver, of being able to easily identify where such a restriction applies and to which particular type of vehicle you’re driving; Auto, Golf Cart, or LSV.

316.2122 (6) – The Department of Transportation may prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles or mini trucks on any road under its jurisdiction if it determines that such prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.

** This provides the FDOT with the freedom to restrict roads under their jurisdiction in the interest of safety. Again, there must be posted signage.

You should have a reasonable expectation, as a driver, of being able to easily identify where such a restriction applies and to which particular type of vehicle you’re driving;  Auto, Golf Cart, or LSV. 


And that’s it. The rules are very simple. Fully complaint, registered, and insured LSVs may travel on any road provided the posted speed limit is 35 MPH or less, and they may cross any road of any posted speed. Any restrictions to LSV navigation or travel must be posted specifically; posted restrictions for Golf Carts do not apply unless LSVs are specifically identified.  Naturally, as a licensed driver of a fully registered motor vehicle, the driver is expected to follow all of the rules of typical driving associated with any other motor vehicle.

The elegance of this legislation is that the rules do not change regardless of where you are in Florida. So, if you take your state-registered LSV to another city or even county… the same exact rules apply. That city or county does not even have to have a golf cart ordinance; LSVs are a normal state-registered motor vehicle with minor speed restrictions.

Let’s go one step further and detail how this would impact you in Dunedin.

  • You could cross any street, with any posted speed limit you wanted, provided the road you’re crossing from and the road you’re crossing to has a posted speed limit of 35 MPH or lower.
    • SR 580
    • US Alt. 19
    • CR-1
    • Anywhere on Patricia
    • You can cross CR-1 at Virginia, south of 580.
    • You can cross 580 at Lake Haven, or 580 at Amberlea (near ACE Hardware)
  • You can travel on any road, highway, interstate, state road, county road, or surface street with a posted speed of 35 MPH or less.
    • Portions of US Alt. 19 / Bayshore, where the posted speed limits are 35 MPH or less. (Be cautious here.  Alt. 19 has many speed limit changes over a distance. For example: Alt. 19 northbound from Main Street is 35 MPH but changes to 40 MPH north of San Christopher. So, you can not drive your LSV to the Dunedin causeway using Alt. 19/Bayshore.  You would be ticketed with a moving violation.)
    • You may drive your fully state-registered LSV on Dunedin Causeway, if you were able to get the vehicle there without actually driving it to the causeway. Trailering it to the causeway is one legal option …if you’re that determined to use your LSV on the causeway. According to State rules, you have complete liberty to drive your state-registered LSV into and around Honeymoon Island State Park – anywhere a normal car or truck is permitted to drive and park. However, if a car is not allowed in an area – neither is an LSV.
  • Florida State Statutes are very clear on the definition of LSVs or Low Speed Vehicles. It makes a very clear distinction between them and other type of Off-Road vehicles like ATVs, ATCs, and Utility Vehicles which can not be registered for road-legal navigation due to their lacking some of the necessary safety features combined with their potentially higher speeds.
  • If you followed these rules very carefully, you could live in Clearwater or Palm Harbor and potentially navigate through all three cities, if you were so inclined. Legal “cart” zones would be irrelevant; you are a fully registered motor vehicle with only three restrictions and those remain the same regardless of the city or county in Florida.

In summary, this is probably not the best option for everyone. It is more costly than just simply navigating a normal Golf Cart in compliance with our City’s ordinance. It does, however, level the motor vehicle playing field and greatly simplifies the rules you must follow. In the best American spirit, it provides you with freedom and specifies the necessary features supporting relative safety.

  • If you have already purchased a fully qualified, real, LSV you will already have a State of Florida motor vehicle title for your machine and a factory label with a federally complaint 17-digit VIN number. You need only to get the proper 10/10 PDL-PIP insurance and register it at any motor vehicle registry.
  • If you bought a golf cart that you were told is an “LSV”, but it doesn’t have an actual State vehicle title or federally complaint 17-digit VIN number, yet is otherwise modified to meet the standard, then you are part way there. You will have to complete the documentation, get the vehicle inspected, then register it with the state. This is more work, and a slightly higher cost.
  • If you are buying an LSV… you’ve learned here what it takes to be a real LSV.  Real LSVs command a somewhat higher price because they are fully documented, labeled, and ready to be registered. By contrast LSV “ready” vehicles are certainly capable and most likely compliant, but if you’re missing a State vehicle title and federally issued 17-digit VIN number, calling it an LSV is inaccurate unless the package is complete. Adjust the price you should expect to pay accordingly, and negotiate more confidently.