California Motor Vehicle Code 21266
Low Speed Vehicles and Local Laws
According to California Vehicle Code 21266, low speed vehicles have the same rights on the roads as all other vehicles. Low speed vehicles are electric vehicles that resemble glorified golf-carts. Low speed vehicles are usually designed to go speeds up to 25 mph, where golf carts are designed to travel at only 15 mph.
Electric cars are legally permitted to operate on public roadways in most states. In California, local authorities have been given the right to restrict or prohibit the use of low-speed vehicles in certain circumstances. Local law enforcement or the California Highway Patrol may prohibit the operation of any low-speed vehicles within their jurisdiction if the prohibitions are determined to be in the best interest of public safety.
If local authorities determine the use of low speed vehicles on their roads is unsafe, they must post signs letting drivers know they have been prohibited. Prohibitions and restrictions will not be effective until the appropriate signs have been posted.
Keep in mind that low speed vehicles do not come with the same safety equipment of higher speed motor vehicles. They require no air bags, no roll bars, and offer very little protection if you are involved in a crash with a larger car or truck. While operating on a heavily traveled roadway may be legal in most towns, it may not always be safe. It is for this reason that local officials have the authority to restrict or prohibit their use on some roadways.
Remember to use caution and common sense when operating on a busy street. Other drivers may not be vigilant in their quest for safety.