When tourists come to South Walton, most just know they are at the beach and begin to enjoy their time here, not giving much thought to laws, such as those governing golf carts.
Many have been seen driving golf carts down 30A, much to the annoyance of locals who are attempting to drive to work and other places they need to be.
Some people have taken to social media sites to ask anyone who might know if it is legal to have golf carts on a county road.
Walton County Sheriff Public Information Officer Corey Dobridnia referred to State Statute, which governs the operation of golf carts on roadways.
The operation of a golf cart on a public road or street of the state is prohibited except on a county road or street that has been designated by a county for use by golf carts. But prior to making that designation, the local government must determine that golf carts may safely travel on or cross the public road or street, considering factors such as the speed, volume, and character of motor vehicle traffic using the road or street. If determined they may, government must then post appropriate signs to indicate such.
There are no such golf cart signs posted on County Highway 30A, so no golf carts can be legally driven there.
However, the exception to these laws is the low-speed vehicles that resemble golf carts. These low-speed vehicles must be registered, have seat belts, lights, and license plates.
Many people complain that they have seen children driving golf carts, even on the road.
According to Florida State Statute, a golf cart may not be operated on public roads or streets by any person under the age of 14.
Occasionally, golf carts are seen traversing the bike path.
State Statute says that the county may determine if it is safe for golf carts to operate on sidewalks adjacent to streets or county roads if it is determined that others may safely share the sidewalk. These golf carts are limited to a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour and permitted on sidewalks only if the sidewalks are at least 8 feet wide. Sidewalks in South Walton are not that wide.
Violations of these laws are a non-criminal traffic infractions punishable as a moving violation.
Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson said his deputies do ticket golf cart drivers on 30A, but if a cart is holding up traffic and a deputy is 20 cars behind the cart, it is impossible to pass the line of cars to get to the cart.
"We ticket them somewhat frequently," he said.
As for the low-speed carts that are legal on the road, Adkinson said complaints arise when the vehicle, which is legal at 35 mph, gets on the road and the driver wants to go 15 mph, backing up traffic behind him.
"Then, vacationers come down from wherever and they see carts on the road and they think it is legal so they begin driving theirs on the road not knowing the difference between a golf cart and low-speed vehicle," he said. "People don't like it, just as they don't like bikers on the road. But the law allows it. At least once a day we get a call about this."
The exceptions to these laws are private roadways located on resorts such as Sandestin, which allows golf carts on its roadways.
"In terms of action, residents that see any laws being broken need to immediately call Walton County Sheriff's Office's non-emergency line," said Dobridnia. "Emailing and posting photos of infractions to social media does not give us the ability to properly conduct a traffic stop and enforce change in a timely manner."