Sheriff’s Department cracking down on illegal golf carts in Malibu

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The LASD Lost Hills/Malibu station reminds residents who operate a golf cart, it needs registration, a licensed driver, and insurance. This golf cart has a proper licensed plate. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Point Dume location of reported unregistered vehicles and unlicensed drivers

The Sheriff’s Department is sending extra patrols to Point Dume after many complaints of underage drivers operating golf carts around the neighborhood and reckless driving. Often, the golf carts appear to be unregistered without a necessary license plate if driven on public streets.

Malibu Public Safety Commission Chair Chris Frost addressed the issue at the Sept. 6 Public Safety Commission meeting and reminded the panel how dangerous it is when untrained, unsupervised, and underage kids are behind the wheel of a golf cart. Frost recalled in 2015 when his teenage neighbor “nearly lost her arm” in a golf cart accident, an incident that was covered by The Malibu Times. An underage driver flipped a golf cart carrying six minor passengers while going down the steep grade on Greyfox. One 11-year-old was airlifted out and another victim was taken to a hospital. Some of the victims, ages 11-16, were ejected from the vehicle as it flipped, while others were reportedly dragged up to 60 feet with the golf cart. The kids apparently were not wearing seat belts. Police at the time said there were no adults or supervision. 

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Malibu Liaison Sgt. Christopher Soderlund wants to put unlicensed golf cart drivers on notice. The LASD Lost Hills/Malibu station has issued a flyer repeated on social media “as a reminder to residents if you’re going to operate a golf cart, it needs registration, a licensed driver, and insurance. We’re doing this proactively so they know the requirements. We’re reminding that people can get hurt and killed. We’ve been getting complaints about kids riding recklessly in golf carts and on electronic motor bikes on Point Dume.” 

Soderlund noticed an uptick during a recent king tide when crowds came out to watch the surf. Parking enforcement issued some tickets and towed three golf carts. Some were not registered, and some were parked illegally.

Legal golf carts can only carry two passengers and travel up to 15 mph. Any golf cart modified to carry more riders is classified as a regular motor vehicle and must comply with DMV regulations for passenger vehicles. All vehicle codes apply.

The Sheriff’s Department is also concerned about electronic bikes, especially the ones without pedals. “They’re like electric dirt bikes,” according to Soderlund. “They can go anywhere from 25 to 50 mph. They’re not street legal. We’ve had reports of reckless driving. We’re trying to prevent anyone from getting hurt.”

Malibu Public Safety Commissioner Keegan Gibbs said, “I see kids ripping down the street, blowing stop signs.” Soderlund has seen them too and recently tried to pull over a young rider, but he said the minor rode away to evade a ticket and that he would not “endanger the public chasing them down.”

Soderlund added that some electric dirt bikes are not street legal and can be impounded.

At the Public Safety Commission meeting, Frost remarked, “The judgement of someone 12 or 13 in a golf cart is not the same as an adult. There’s a good reason they’re not licensed. This has been going on and getting ramped up for years. Now you go to the market and see them parked in the red zone.”

Frost added at the meeting the drivers are “kids.” 

“Bottom line, it’s out of control. Worse than that the electric motorcycles,” he said, adding that if people complain about too many regulations his reply is, “I’m on the side of safety. This isn’t safe. License the golf cart. Get a VIN number. Do the right thing. Then you can drive it.”