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Electric neighborhood and utility vehicles

Department of Motor Vehicles - State of California

2005 Vehicle Code Relative to
Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV)

Golf Cart (Section 345): A “golf cart” is a motor vehicle having not less than three wheels in contact with the ground, having an unladen weight less than 1,300 pounds, which is designed to be and is operated at not more than 15 miles per hour and designed to carry golf equipment and not more than two persons, including the driver. 

Low-speed Vehicles (Section 385.5) A “low-speed vehicle” is a motor vehicle, other than a motor truck, having four wheels on the ground and an unladen weight of 1,800 pounds or less, that is capable of propelling itself at a minimum speed of 20 miles per hour and a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour on a paved level surface. For the purposes of this section, a “low speed vehicle” is not a golf cart, except when operated pursuant to Section 21115 or 21115.1. A “low-speed vehicle” is also known as a “neighborhood electric vehicle”. 

Low-speed Vehicle Dealer Disclosure (Section 11713.10): It is unlawful and a violation of this code to sell a low-speed vehicle, as defined in Section 385.5, without disclosing to the buyer the vehicle’s maximum speed and the potential risks of driving a low-speed vehicle. 

Low-speed vehicles: Defined (Section 21250): For the purposes of this article, a low-speed vehicle means a vehicle as defined in Section 385.5. A low-speed vehicle is also known as a “neighborhood electric vehicle”.

Low-speed Vehicles: Subject to Motor Vehicle Provisions (Section 21251): Except as provided in Sections 1963 to 1963.8 inclusive of the Streets and Highways Code, and Sections 4023, 21115, 21115.1, a low-speed vehicle is subject to all the provisions applicable to a motor vehicle, and the driver of a low-speed vehicle is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle or other vehicle, when applicable, by this code or any other code, with the exception of those provisions which, by their very nature, have no application.

Low-speed vehicles: Vehicle Deal Disclosure Statement (Section 21252): A vehicle dealer, selling a low-speed vehicle, shall provide the buyer a disclosure statement regarding the operation of the vehicle that is in compliance with existing provisions of the California Code of Regulations.

Low-speed vehicles (Section 21253): A low-speed vehicle operated or parked on the roadway shall at all times meet federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards established for low-speed vehicles in Section 571.500 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Low-speed vehicles: Modified or Altered Vehicles (Section 21254): A motor vehicle that was originally designated as a low-speed vehicle and that has been modified or altered to exceed 25 miles per hour shall not qualify for the relaxed federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards established for low-speed vehicles and instead shall meet all federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for a passenger vehicle.

Low-speed vehicles: Prohibitions (Section 21260): (a) Except as provided in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b), or in an area where a neighborhood electric vehicle transportation plan has been adopted pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 1963) of Division 2.3 of the Streets and Highways Code, the operator of a low-speed vehicle shall not operate the vehicle on any roadway with a speed limit in excess of 35 miles per hour.

(b) (1) The operator of a low-speed vehicle may cross a roadway with a speed limit in excess of 35 miles per hour if the crossing begins and ends on a roadway with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less and occurs at an intersection of approximately 90 degrees.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the operator of a low-speed vehicle shall not traverse an uncontrolled intersection with any state highway unless that intersection has been approved and authorized by the agency having primary traffic enforcement responsibilities for that crossing by a low-speed vehicle.

Low-speed Vehicles: Restrictions and Prohibitions By Local Authorities or Department of the California Highway Patrol (Section 21266) (a) Notwithstanding Section 21260, local authorities, by ordinance or resolution, may restrict or prohibit the use of low-speed vehicles.

Notwithstanding Section 21260, a local law enforcement agency with primary traffic enforcement responsibilities or the Department of the California Highway Patrol may prohibit the operation of a low-speed vehicle on any roadway under that agency’s or department’s jurisdiction when the agency or the department deems the prohibition to be in the best interest of public safety. Any such prohibition shall become effective when appropriate signs giving notice thereof are erected upon the roadway.

Low-speed Vehicle Registration Exemption (Section 4023): a low-speed vehicle operated pursuant to Section 21115 or 21115.1 is exempt from registration:

Golf Carts on Local Highways (Section 21115): (a) If a local authority finds that a highway under its jurisdiction is located adjacent to, or provides access to, a golf course and between the golf course and the place where golf carts are parked or stored or is within or bounded by a real estate development offering golf facilities and is designed and constructed, so as to safely permit the use of regular vehicular traffic and also the driving of golf carts on the highway, the local authority may, by resolution or ordinance, designate the highway or portion of the highway for combined use and prescribe rules and regulation that shall have the force of law. No highway shall be so designated for a distance of more than one mile from the golf course if the highway is not located within a development or beyond the authority in this respect shall be conclusive. Upon the designation becoming effective it shall be lawful to drive golf carts upon the highway in accordance with the prescribed rules and regulations. The rules and regulations may establish crossing zones and speed limits and other operating standards by shall not require that the golf carts conform to any requirements of this code with respect to registration, licensing, or equipment, except that if operated during Section 24001.5 regarding equipment.

The rules and regulations shall not be effective until appropriate signs giving notice thereof are posted along the highway affected.

A “real estate development offering golf facilities”, for purposes of this section, means an area of single-family or multiple-family residences, the owners or occupants of which are eligible for membership in, or the use of, one or more golf courses within the development by virtue of their ownership or occupancy of a residential dwelling unit in the development.

For purposes of this section, a “golf cart” includes a low-speed vehicle.

Golf Cart Crossing Zones (Section 21115.1): (a) Notwithstanding Section 21115, a local authority may, by ordinance or resolution, establish crossing zones, for use by golf carts at any time other than during darkness, on any street, other than a state highway, that has a posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour or less and that is immediately adjacent ot a golf course. The crossing zones shall be at an angle of approximately 90 degrees to the direction of the roadway. The ordinance or resolution shall not become effective until submitted to the law enforcement agency having primary jurisdiction over the street, the law enforcement agency finds and determines that the conditions pertaining to that street, with the addition of proper signs, markers, or lighting, or any combination of those, will permit the establishment of a golf cart crossing with reasonable safety, and the signs, marker, or lighting specified by the law enforcement agency are in place.

(b) Subdivision (a) does not constitute precedent for the operation of golf carts on any street or highway other than in a crossing zone established pursuant to subdivision (a).

(c) For purposes of this section, a “golf cart” includes a low-speed vehicle.

Source: State of California 2005 Vehicle Code, Published January 2005 by the Department of Motor Vehicles Sacramento, California, Copyright 2005.

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