Residents could face fines for driving golf carts

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla.- Snowbirds make their way to the Suncoast every year to enjoy the beautiful beaches and peaceful paradise. Many expect to enjoy all the amenities their retirement communities have to offer. Many of them also replace their cars with golf carts to get around town.

However, driving some golf carts on public roads and sidewalks is actually against the law.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Department considers golf carts on sidewalks a safety issue. The 2013 Florida statutes outline the law against driving a golf cart on a sidewalk.

You cannot take your golf cart and just cruise up and down a sidewalk unless you're in a community that has private streets,” said Dave Bristow, Manatee County Sheriff’s Department’s spokesperson.

But for most retirees in Ellenton Gardens and Colony Cove, this is their only form of transportation.

“This impacts my life tremendously because this is my only means of transportation. It enables me to get to the supermarket, to get to doctor's appointments,” said Lynn Gold, a 12-year resident of Colony Cove.

“I take it to Ace. I take it to the Dollar store. I take it to church. I take it to K-mart,” said Lynn Ortiz, a resident of Colony Cove.

Dianne Young has lived at Ellenton Gardens for 8 years. She gave me a ride in her golf cart today that she's driven for nearly a decade. Dianne drives her cart on the sidewalks to go to the pharmacy and buy her groceries, and she doesn't know how she'll do that now.

“I couldn't afford a ticket if I got one. I don't have a license. I haven't driven since 1990,” said Young.

That ticket would cost $166, and 3 points for those with a license.

Gloria and Jerry Porter are snowbirds from Indiana and live in Ellenton Gardens 6 months out of the year. They thought having a golf cart would be part of the Florida living experience.

“I thought we was (sic) going to be able to enjoy riding around in the golf cart. We have friends in all the other parks and we go and see them and visit, said Gloria Porter.

The Porters plan to meet with Manatee Commissioners to talk about the issue, and there hope is to possibly make it legal.