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Tougher Enforcement of Golf Cart Regulations Soon, Sheriff's Office Suggests

Collier County Sheriff's Office deputies have seen too many incidents of unsafe operation of golf carts in Ave Maria and is looking to enforce the rules more strictly in the near future, Sheriff's Lt. Andy Prisco said Tuesday at a meeting of the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District.

During an update to the district board on a continuing effort to codify golf cart regulations, Lt. Prisco, the commander of the patrol district that includes Ave Maria, said he and his deputies have grown increasingly concerned.

"There is lots of unsafe operation of golf carts," he said. "We've seen 12-year-old kids driving carts and mothers driving them carrying babies in their arms."

Deputies have not cracked down yet, but, he said, "I don't know how long we can continue to turn a blind eye."

The minimum age for operating a golf cart in Florida is 14 but communities can set their own regulations.

Proposed rules for Ave Maria, would require all operators of golf carts to have either a driver's license or learner's permit, the minimum age for which is 15.

The question of setting rules for golf cart operation in Ave Maria has been considered by the district board for years, complicated by overlapping jurisdictions of individual homeowners' associations, the stewardship community district and the county government, which has all enforcement authority.

The latest attempt to implement rules in the form of a county ordinance has stalled because of jurisdictional questions raised by the county attorney, district lawyer Jonathan Johnson told the district meeting Tuesday.

The proposed ordinance was sent to the county and was on the agenda for the Collier County Commission meeting Jan. 26 for approval to move to the next phase, which would have been advertising a public hearing on the subject. The item was continued at the request of the county attorney, who Mr. Johnson said wants to resolve some questions about jurisdictional responsibilities before moving forward.

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