Mar 25, 2024 - News

Scoop: Golf cart confiscations coming soon for New Orleans

Illustration of a golf cart caught in police spotlights.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The French Quarter may not be anything like a private golf course community, but the electric golf carts known for puttering around those neighborhoods are becoming a more common sight on New Orleans streets.

Why it matters: Golf carts aren't street legal, and the Department of Public Works will soon start confiscating "any non-compliant vehicles found illegally parked on public rights-of-way," a city spokesman tells Axios New Orleans.

The big picture: Both privately owned golf carts and those for-hire have been spotted around New Orleans for months.

  • "Some golf carts and [other low-speed vehicles] are being unlawfully operated as unlicensed taxi shuttles," an NOPD spokesperson says.
  • Officers have spotted the vehicles in RTA streetcar lanes, along the Moon Walk near riverboat cruise docks and in Jackson Square.

Between the lines: State law says golf carts can't be operated on public streets unless the parish gives express permission.

  • And neither Jefferson Parish nor New Orleans have granted it, according to respective spokespeople.
  • A new New Orleans city ordinance is expected this spring, a city spokesman says, which would give NOPD another way to crack down on the vehicles.

That hasn't stopped businesses from continuing to operate, and because they're not permitted, there's no real census to understand how many are scooting around town.

  • NOPD estimates it has issued about 20 citations for golf carts in recent months, according to a spokesperson, with all but a few of those toward the end of last year.

Zoom in: One company, which registered with the state in 2021, even lets customers book a golf cart directly on its website.

  • The prices for a six-seater cart range from $195 for three hours to up to $395 for five hours. You can even buy a pair of sunglasses for $10 before checkout.
  • The site cautions that golf carts "are to be operated in the streets only," and advises drivers to adhere to the usual rules of the road.

Worth noting: A call to that business was not returned.

What's next: The city spokesman also said DPW is putting together a public awareness campaign to underscore the golf cart restrictions.

Carlie Kollath Wells contributed reporting.

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