Golf cart ordinance back at clubhouse

Village Board seeks way to get around state law that requires a driver’s license to operate the vehicles
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Good intentions to allow at least one village resident to drive a golf cart on the street since he can’t get a driver’s license hit a snag at Monday’s Belgium Village Board meeting.

The board sought to create an ordinance allowing golf carts on village streets without requiring driver’s licenses because one resident has special needs.

Village Attorney Gerry Antoine said he researched the state law after the Public Works Committee recommended approving an ordinance sans driver’s licenses.

The golf cart section of the state law doesn’t address driver’s licenses, but the state statute requires a license to operate a motor vehicle on a public street, Antoine said.

“We can’t go against state law,” he said.

Antoine said he looked at several golf cart ordinances across the state, and all but one required driver’s licenses. That, however, is irrelevant because state law supersedes municipal ordinances.

“We’d like to accommodate the couple of people that have been mentioned. I just don’t see any way to do it right now,” he said.

State law has some exemptions to the driver’s license requirement— such as for specialized vehicles — but golf carts don’t fall under those, Antoine said.

Trustee Rose Sauers asked if driver’s licenses could be amended for people in Belgium’s circumstance.

“The state issues driver’s licenses. There’s no way you have authority to do that,” Antoine said.

“It would be nice if we could accommodate them, but we don’t have that flexibility.”

Village Treasurer Vickie Boehnlein said the state law allows the use of all-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles without driver’s licenses. The village approved to allow those vehicles on its streets last year. Those born after 1989 without a license are required to take a safety course, and an adult has to be next to them until they are 16.

“It’s not a great option when you have to spend a lot more money, but it is an option,” she said.

Antoine chalked up the ATV/UTV exemption to having a good lobby.

Jim Jasen, father of the young man who wants to drive a golf cart, found it odd that an ATV or UTV doesn’t require a license.

“So I can go out and buy a more dangerous vehicle for my son to drive and that will be OK,” he said.

“There are a lot of laws that don’t necessarily make sense,” Antoine said.

“I agree,” Jasen said. “This is our system nowadays. We do stupid things.”

He asked if the issue could be left open to do more research, but Antoine said, “I don’t know what more research there is to do.”

Sauers asked if anyone else would be affected by the ordinance.

“Otherwise, is there a need for the ordinance if it’s not going to benefit the people that it was meant to benefit?” she asked.

Boehnlein and Clerk Julie Lesar said other families in the village are interested in riding golf carts.

Sauers moved to table discussion of the ordinance, and the board unanimously agreed.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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