Hemelt: SJSO backs golf cart change before Parish Council

Published 12:03 am Saturday, June 9, 2018

Golf carts — who can drive them legally and what is required for a street legal golf cart — will again be considered when St. John the Baptist Parish Council members gather Tuesday evening in LaPlace and discuss numerous public hearings.

The details, which are covered in the 2016-passed Ordinance 16-30; Section 40-8 of the St. John the Baptist Parish Code of Ordinances, are up for a slight amendment in an effort led by the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Mike Tregre told me he loves having legally operated golf carts on the road because “they are extra eyes and ears on the street.”

Under the proposed ordinance change, Chief Deputy Steven Guidry said instead of St. John Parish Government handling cart inspections, that effort would fall to the Sheriff’s Office.

“As law enforcement, we were able to meet with DMV and they agreed to work with us to do off road stickers for golf cart vehicles,” Guidry said.

The agreement with the Office of Motor Vehicles and local law enforcement sets up a registration and certification process that ensures a respectable standard for golf carts, while also setting up law enforcement to enforce (read: ticket) proper protocol when reckless operators continue to put their convenience over the safety of neighbors.

To receive the sticker from the Office of Motor Vehicles, owners need their cart’s title and identification number. Those without that information don’t need to fret as there will be a process in place to produce that information for those lacking specifics.

As a resident of Reserve (the golf cart capital of the River Region) with an 8-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, I happily advocate for continued golf cart use in my neighborhood and surrounding communities, as long as drivers maintain reasonable standards.

I’ve seen too many juveniles behind the wheels of speeding golf carts that careen around corners on two wheels with no concern for approaching traffic or neighborhood children.

Should the Council approve the amendment Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Office website will go live with all the regulations Wednesday morning, providing step-by-step instructions for golf cart owners to obtain a registration certificate.

They would first have to visit the Office of Motor Vehicles on Airline Highway in Reserve to apply for an Off Road Vehicle sticker.

After obtaining the sticker, the golf cart owners would contact the Sheriff’s Office to show certain cart benchmarks meet certification, all of which will be listed on the website.

They include, but are not limited to, insurance, a driver’s license, brakes, steering apparatus, rearview mirror, red reflective warning devices in front and rear, front and rear turning signals, tail lights, brake lights and head lights.

Golf cart owners pay a $25 fee for the Sheriff’s Office inspection, which is good for two years.

Full certification allows golf cart owners to drive on Parish roads only, with certain exceptions (For example: Central Avenue in Reserve).

“Also in the ordinance that we are not changing, they cannot have anybody 6 and under ride on a golf cart,” Guidry said.

“The reason for that is state law mandates anybody 6 and under must be in a child restraint chair, and golf carts are not authorized to strap in child restraint chairs. It has to be a licensed driver driving that vehicle. No more kids that are 12 years old and 8 years old driving golf carts.”

Those interested in learning more or sharing their opinions with Parish Council members, who will ultimately vote on the amendment, are welcome to attend Tuesday’s meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. in Council chambers.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.