Golf Cart vs UTV on Hennessey Streets

According to Wikipedia, A UTV is a “utility task vehicle.” Designed with a cab for two to four riders, used for work or recreation. Alternative UTV names are SxS and side-by-side many capable of speeds over 60mph. Unfortunately, most come from the factory intended for off-road use only and do not have much of the safety equipment required for “on public roads” use.  

A golf cart is a vehicle intended to be driven on a golf course and should not exceed a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour. Golf carts straight from the factory are often not street legal. This is because they lack the safety components outfitted on low-speed vehicles, which would make them legal.

A few years ago, Hennessey adopted a Special Vehicle Permit that allowed golf carts to operate within city limits. To operate one on Hennessey City streets, you had to be 16 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and it had to be insured and used only inside city limits. After that, you go had to go to the Police Station and fill out a form, pay a $25 fee each year, and you were good to go. The Hennessey special vehicle permit was initially intended for golf carts.

Over the past few years, the amount of ATVs and UTVs in Hennessey has grown and there is a great deal of them operating in town and on the county roads. Hennessey Interim Police Chief Aaron Pitts said, “The determining factor is if the vehicle must be tagged and if it is capable of maintaining speeds of 45mph. Sometimes this is hard to tell by looking.”  

Now there are a lot of UTVs and not so many golf carts. In 2021, the Oklahoma legislature passed a law making UTVs street legal, but users should be aware that a driver’s license is required, and it must be registered and insured the same way you would any other vehicle. Unfortunately, most UTVs come without all of the safety equipment needed to be street legal such as; seat belts, headlights, turn signals, and brake lights.

When you apply for a golf cart permit, the first question on the Hennessey form at the police station asks: “Is the vehicle capable of maintaining speeds of 45 MPH or greater. Yes ___ No___.  If you check yes, then it will be treated like any other motor vehicle and must be tagged just like a car or truck.

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