After years of lax regulation over golf cart usage in Youngsville, a zero-tolerance policy is now being enforced to ensure public safety.
The change comes after multiple golf cart crashes involving young, unlicensed drivers and instances of adults using golf carts on state highways after nighttime outings to bars and restaurants.
“I have given all the warnings that I’m going to give,” said Youngsville Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux. “From this point on, there’s going to be citations issued and golf carts towed.”
Every golf cart must be registered with the city of Youngsville and display a registration sticker to be in compliance.
An event will be held from 9 to 11 am Sunday at an outdoor event space in Sugar Mill Pond where residents can learn more about the requirements. Those looking to register or renew their registration should bring their golf cart and proof of insurance to the event. Representatives from the police department and city hall, along with an insurance company, will be on hand to answer questions.
“We encourage everybody to register and get a sticker on their golf cart,” Boudreaux said. “If it doesn’t have a sticker, it’s not legal. It can’t be on the roadway.”
Rules and regulations are handed out to golf cart owners at the time of registration. Those who cannot attend Sunday’s event can register a golf cart on the city’s website.
The registration effort comes after Boudreaux addressed the Youngsville City Council about the matter in November, when he warned that someone could be killed in a golf cart crash if something isn’t done.
“The ordinance as written was well-intended,” said Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter during the Nov. 9 city council meeting. “It wasn’t to go from Field Crest to Sonic. It wasn’t to go to Pour and stay all night and then drive back to wherever you’re going. It wasn’t to allow the kids to go check the mailbox. CC’s – the only people who should be on a golf cart at CC’s is someone who lives in the townhomes in Metairie Center. That’s it. “
Boudreaux brought up “the golf cart issue,” which wasn’t on the agenda, during staff announcements at the end of the council’s regular November meeting. The topic sparked lively discussion among city leaders for about 15 minutes, but the council did not take action.
Officers have bent the rules for parents using golf carts to teach their children how to drive, Boudreaux said, but unlicensed teens driving golf carts without adults is becoming the norm.
“Several times it’s been 12-, 13-year-olds riding by themselves – sometimes five, six, seven hanging off the golf cart,” Boudreaux said.
The police chief said there have been four recent crashes involving golf carts with young, unlicensed drivers in Youngsville.
No one has suffered serious injuries, but some of the collisions have been significant. In one case, the rear axle of a golf cart flew off in a crash caused by a child speeding through a stop sign.
“I’ve given way too many warnings, so there’s no more warnings,” Boudreaux said. “My officers have been instructed zero tolerance for that. They will pull the golf cart and ticket the parents.”
Some adults are also recklessly driving golf carts.
Last year, a Youngsville officer came across an adult driver in a golf cart leaving a bar on a two-lane highway at 1:30 am, Boudreaux said.
“And we have allowed it to happen,” Boudreaux said. “What we’ll do is we’ll stop and we’ll turn on the lights, but I think it needs to go back to them staying inside those subdivisions.”
What’s in the ordinance?
Youngsville’s lengthy golf cart ordinance was adopted in 2014.
It allows golf carts to be operated by licensed drivers during daylight hours within the city. It prohibits travel on 19 state highways within the city and during rain, fog or inclement weather. The penalty for violating any rule outlined in the ordinance is $ 200.
In addition, the local law requires all golf cart owners to pay an annual $ 75 fee and display a permit sticker on their vehicles.
When Youngsville council members drafted the golf cart ordinance, they were also requiring developers to include greenspaces in neighborhoods without requiring parking lots for those spaces.
The intention of the golf cart ordinance, according to the current mayor, was to allow residents to travel within their neighborhoods to take advantage of those resources.
“I trust our people,” Ritter said. “When they’re given the right information, when they’re told what the ordinance is, I think the majority would abide.”
When asked by Council Member Ken Stansbury what percentage of golf carts are not registered or street legal, Boudreaux said “the majority.”
If the reckless golf cart practices continue, Boudreaux said he’ll ask the council to consider outlawing them on city streets altogether.
“It’s becoming a nuisance for everybody,” Boudreaux said. “If it doesn’t change – as much as I hate to do it because I’m a golf cart owner – we’ll ask for it to be abolished. It’s in the interest of public safety.”