Published: 29 June 2018
Author: Creon Coolahan

The legalities of driving a golf cart on the road - UPDATE

In my blog post of 14 May 2018 (if you haven’t read it you will find it here: https://stringerclark.com.au/legal-blog/2018/you-may-be-fined-for-driving-a-golf-cart) I set out the law as we see it in respect to the legality of driving a golf cart on a “public highway”.

In summary, it is our view that it is not an offence to drive a conventional golf cart on a public highway because a golf cart is not a “motor vehicle” by reason of a declaration made by the Government in the Government Gazette on 8 February 1993 and is exempt from the requirement to be registered.

To attract the exemption, and protection from the offence, the golf cart must:

  1. be designed mainly for use outside the road system; 
  2. meet the description of a “golf car” or “golf buggy”; 
  3. must not be in fact being driven on a highway for more than two kilometres in one direction at a time; and
  4. must be being used for the purpose for which it was manufactured.

An argument that was raised by Victoria Police was that driving a golf cart on a road is evidence in fact itself of the golf car NOT being used for the purpose for which it was manufactured. In other words, if you are driving the golf cart on the road either to or from the golf course, or even during a round of golf, then you are not actually using the golf cart to play golf and cannot claim the exemption.

We can happily advise that Victoria Police, after seeking legal advice from the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office, withdrew the traffic infringement notices that had been issued against some golfers in our region.

Whilst the decision to withdraw is not a definitive statement of the law by a Court, it should provide some indication of the policy that Victoria Police might adopt in future matters.

Obviously if you have any doubts, or if you have received a traffic infringement notice for driving your unregistered golf cart on a public highway, then you should contact us for advice.

Golf carts and claims under the TAC scheme

You should note that whilst a golf cart being used in a manner that attracts the exemption above is not a “motor vehicle”, if you were injured in a transport accident in Victoria that involved out of the driving of another motor car, motor vehicle, bus, train or tram when driving your golf cart then you would have the right to lodge a claim against the TAC (Transport Accident Commission). 

If you happen to be driving your golf cart on the road in a manner that does not attract the exemption (which would be very unwise as you would be committing an offence) and were injured in a transport accident, it is our view that may still have an entitlement to compensation from the TAC depending on the circumstances of the accident and the status of any other vehicles involved.

If you have an accident on your golf course when driving your golf cart during a round of golf it is unlikely that you will be able to make a claim against the TAC unless you had been able to convince VicRoads to register your golf cart as a motor vehicle by satisfying rigorous compliance measures and by having modified the golf cart for road use to VicRoads’ standards. You may however have a claim against another party whose negligence caused the accident (such as the driver of the golf cart in which you were a passenger), or a claim under any sports injury insurance policy that your club has taken out for you as a member or visitor.

In any case, please seek further legal advice from our team of lawyers.

Categories Legislation, Police, TAC

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