Bay to crack down on illegal use of golf carts
By Dwayne Bremer
Oct 9, 2012, 17:22
The Bay St. Louis Police Department will begin enforcing the state's new golf cart laws in an attempt to improve recent safety concerns raised by citizens and city council members.
Police Chief Mike De Nardo told the city council Tuesday that his department is concerned about the increased use of golf carts on city streets.
De Nardo said the biggest concern is children driving around in golf carts without parental supervision.
De Nardo said that his department has been getting a lot complaints about golf carts, and some parents are showing apathy about their children driving them.
"Children are out at night driving the golf carts," he said. "Someone is going to get killed."
Likewise, Ward Two Councilwoman Wendy McDonald said she has been receiving a lot of complaints.
"I've noticed a lot of increased use in Old Town and in Ward Five," she said.
"Last week, there was someone who went to Family Dollar to get groceries and was crossing the highway in a golf cart."
Last year, the state legislature enacted new laws concerning golf carts.
The law now requires that golf carts have lights, turning signals, and be registered or inspected. They also must be driven by licensed drivers.
"We want to make sure, that first, anyone riding a golf cart is a licensed driver," De Nardo said.
He said children found driving golf carts will be taken home and the parents warned.
Councilman-at-large Bill Taylor said he would like to see the city advertise the new regulations.
"We don't want anyone to claim ignorance," he said.
Taylor said the city should also continue to allow golf cart use during parades, special events, and festivals.
"We have a lot of laws like this, but we don't enforce the open container law during Bridge Fast," he said.
Local resident Camille Tate asked the council not to punish the adults who are responsible with their golf carts.
"There are a lot of people who have spent a lot of money on their golf carts," she said. "I did a lot to make my golf cart legal. We are not the ones who are running through stop signs and creating danger. It's the kids."
Mayor Les Fillingame said the law gives cities and counties the option of limiting the times when someone can ride golf carts on public roads.
He said the city can allow the use 24-hours a day or from sun-up to sun-down.
Ward One Councilman Doug Seal said he does not want to add or take away from existing law.
"I want to adopt the state law the way it is written," Seal said. "We don't need any liability."
Ward Five Councilman Joey Boudin said he does not mind responsible riders, even at night.
"You can ride a bike all over town at night," Boudin said.
De Nardo said the police department will use a "common sense" approach to enforcing the new laws, but crack down on minors driving.
"Enforcement is going to be hard," he said. "We just don't want the kids driving around at night."