A new ordinance has made it legal to drive a golf cart on county roads within the Birch Bay Golf Cart Zone. Golf carts must meet specific safety and technical requirements. Please review all of the information below.

RULES FOR OPERATION OF GOLF CARTS IN BIRCH BAY

Operation of golf carts in Birch Bay is governed by both Washington State and Whatcom County regulations.

(This is a general summary of the requirements and is not considered expert or legal advice, see our DISCLAIMER.)
For complete information visit the state and county websites.

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND – IF YOU OPERATE A GOLF CART ON THE ROAD YOU MUST FOLLOW ALL OF THE SAME LAWS AS YOU WOULD WHEN DRIVING A CAR. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS AND YOU WILL BE TICKETED THE SAME AS DRIVING A CAR.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TURN SIGNALS YOU MUST USE HAND SIGNALS.

What qualifies as a golf cart?

“Golf cart” means a gas-powered or electric powered four-wheeled vehicle originally designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting purposes and has a speed attainable in one mile of not more than twenty miles per hour. A golf cart is not a nonhighway vehicle or off-road vehicle as defined in RCW 46.04.365.

Where can I drive my golf cart?

Golf carts are only allowed to operate on approved roads with speed limits of 25 mph. Please refer to the Golf Cart Zone Map for details.

Who is allowed to operate a golf cart?

Only licensed drivers are allowed to operate a golf cart. (This has been confirmed with law enforcement).

You must carry your license with you when operating the golf car the same as you would in a car.

What rules apply to the driver of a golf cart?

Anyone driving a golf cart is subject to the same rules, duties, and responsibilities as someone operating a vehicle.

How do I let people know if I intend to turn or stop?

if your golf cart is not equipped with turn signals or brake lights you must use hand signals. SEE INSTRUCTIONS HERE.

Do I need to wear a seat belt?

Yes, all operation rules that apply to cars apply to golf carts. You will receive a seat belt ticket from an officer if you are not wearing a seat belt.

Can I operate my golf cart when it’s dark?

Golf carts shall not be operated on a street during one-half (1/2) hour after sunset to one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise.

ONLY EXCEPTION IS IF THE CART HAS FULL HEADLIGHTS AND TAIL LIGHTS AS DESCRIBED BELOW

  • To operate at night a golf cart must be in full compliance with Revised Code Of Washington 46.37 regarding vehicle lighting and other equipment, including equipping the golf cart with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet (500′) to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Washington state patrol which shall be visible from all distances up to six hundred feet (600′) to the rear when directly in front of lawful low beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet (500′) to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector. A light emitting diode flashing taillight visible from a distance of five hundred feet (500′) to the rear may also be used in addition to the red reflector

Does my golf cart require any special registration?

At this time no registration with the county is required. Your golf cart must meet all safety requirements.

Do I need insurance for my golf cart?

Golf carts (much like motorcycles in Washington State) do not require insurance when operated on roads, however it is highly recommended that operators carry golf cart insurance. If you cause injury or damage and are at fault and don’t have insurance you could be responsible for huge fees.

What if I get in an accident?

Accidents that involve golf carts operated upon streets and highways as authorized under this section must be recorded and tracked in compliance with chapter 46.52 RCW. The accident report must indicate that a golf cart operating within a golf cart zone is involved in the accident.

Can I drive on the shoulder?

Golf carts should be operate on the road in a fashion similar to other vehicles. If vehicles need to pass you may pull your golf cart to the shoulder to let them pass but you should not drive your golf cart on the shoulder.

Where can I park?

Parking rules are the same as cars. Park only in designated spaces. If you park on a street, park the same as a car would as directed by state laws. If you park in a no parking zone or park in an illegal manner you will be towed!

What are the rules regarding alcohol/marijuana and golf carts?

All laws that apply to vehicles apply to golf carts. You may not drive a golf cart intoxicated and you will be subject to the same DUI laws and rules that would apply to your car. No open containers are allowed – the same as if you were driving a car.

You can be arrested and charged with DUI for driving a golf cart while intoxicated. Don’t risk your life or the lives of others, do not operate a golf cart while intoxicated. Don’t risk going to jail and losing your drivers license.

REQUIREMENTS FOR GOLF CARTS IN BIRCH BAY

GOLF CARTS SHOULD MEET THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS AS DESIGNATED BY STATE LAW

(This is a general summary of the rules and is not considered expert or legal advice, see our DISCLAIMER.)
For complete information visit the state and county websites.

Golf carts must have the following safety equipment:

  • Seat belts for all passengers regardless of seating position in the golf cart. It’s recommended that seat belts be anchored to the frame. (You also must be wearing a seat belt at all times when operating or travelling in a golf cart.)
  • Side mirror on left side and a center rear view mirror. It’s recommended to have a side mirror on the right side as well. Some people have a full length center mirror – technically this may meet the requirements but it must provide a full unobstructed view to the sides (180 degrees). Best solution is to buy the side mirrors as well.
  • Relfectors – two or more red reflectors mounted on the vehicle at a height not less than fifteen inches nor more than seventy-two inches measured as set forth in RCW 46.37.030(2), and shall be of such size and characteristics and so mounted as to be visible at night (golf carts are not allowed to operate at night unless they have all headlights and tailights as required by law) from all distances within six hundred feet to one hundred feet from such vehicle when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps.
    • At minimum it’s recommended to use a total of eight 3” (three inch) reflectors mounted on the golf cart, four amber reflectors
      which shall be placed on the front and the forward right and left sides of the cart and four red reflectors
      which shall be placed on the rear and the rear right and left sides of the golf cart.
    • Large rear reflectors that you commonly see on tractors may also be useful as they are larger and can be seen from far away.

Golf carts speed requirements:

To qualify as a golf cart under RCW 46.04.1945 golf carts may not be able to exceed a speed of 20mph over 1 mile.

Golf carts power source:

Golf carts may be gas or electric powered.

Does my quad or ATV qualify as a golf cart?

No the laws are quite specific – “Golf cart” means a gas-powered or electric-powered four-wheeled vehicle originally designed and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting purposes and has a speed attainable in one mile of not more than twenty miles per hour. A golf cart is not a nonhighway vehicle or off-road vehicle as defined in RCW 46.04.365.

Can I add custom wheels, or other modifications to my golf cart?

You may customize your golf cart as long as it meets the safety and speed requirements under the law. Additionally it must be able to operate safely on the street. “Lift kits” and larger wheels/tires are not recommended as they can cause golf carts to be unsafe, unstable, and more likely to tip over. They also can cause handling to be effected.

YOU MAY NOT ADD LIGHTS TO YOUR GOLF CART THAT DO NOT MEET THE STATE REQUIREMENT FOR VEHICLES. NO BLUE LIGHTS, PURPLE LIGHTS, ETC. THE LAW IS VERY SPECIFIC ABOUT WHERE LIGHTS CAN BE ADDED AND WHAT COLOR.

Can I install stereos or other electronics in my golf cart?

Yes, you may add electronic devices in your cart as long as they are devices that would be allowed in a regular vehicle.

Is a tall pole with a flag attached a good thing to have on the golf cart?

Anything that makes you more visible to traffic can make you safer.

GOLF CART ZONE MAP

Birch Bay offers a large golf cart zone spanning local neighborhoods and all along the waterfront. Stay on approved roads.

NOTE: Golf Carts may travel through Birch Bay State Park along Birch Bay drive, but they are not allowed to turn onto Helweg Rd or travel anywhere else in the park.

CLICK ON MAP BELOW TO VIEW FULL SIZE

This map is not meant to be used for navigation. For complete information visit the state and county websites. Locations and approved golf cart roads shown are all approximate representations based upon Whatcom County Ordinance documents. See our DISCLAIMER.
For definitive information on approved roads please view the ordinance documents.

The information contained on this website page should not be construed as legal advice on any matter, see our Disclaimer. Maps are approximate and are not meant to be used for navigation. For all rules and regulations regarding golf carts and their use in Whatcom County refer to state and local laws.