In 2021, the state of Texas passed a law allowing golf carts and other vehicles to be operated on roads that have a speed limit under 35 miles per hour, and public beaches, with some restrictions.
One of the requirements for the vehicles being allowed to operate is it needs to have a license plate registered to the state.
Golf carts have been allowed on North Padre Island since 2011, and in 2019 Utility Task Vehicles were added.
The Island Strategic Action Committee is trying to get the City of Corpus Christi to enforce a requirement for vehicles to have license plates on the Island.
“It’s every in general; it’s safety, being on the dunes, it’s uneducated drivers driving down 22. It’s just creating more liability, and if we actually get ahead of it now, we’ll be better off,” said Michael Pittman, a member of ISAC, and the head of the sub-committee designated to this issue.
Requiring a license plate will be helpful to people on the Island, as well as law enforcement, to be able to more easily address issues as they happen.
“It’s just identification purposes,” said Randy Wilbanks, who is also on the ISAC. “If you’re on the beach and a golf cart runs into you, or a UTV, and leaves, and you call the cops and tell them you got hit by a black UTV, 90 percent of them are black. It needs some sort of identification on it, like we have cars.”
The hope is also that the licenses will cut down on people driving recklessly with the vehicles, and traveling where they aren’t allowed, because the identification will make their actions traceable.
Wilbanks and Pittman said the license plate would only cost an individual $14.75, and is a lifetime license.
Wilbanks owns North Padre Cart Rentals, and has more than 75 golf carts that he rents.
He said he is in favor of the licenses, even though he would likely be the person most impacted by their implementation.
“As a rental operator with more than 75 carts, I’m going to be buying most of the plates,” he laughed. “A lot of times, people just blame the tourists. It’s not just the tourists. I see more locals causing problems than I do all the tourists.”
Pittman said the ISAC is trying to educate the people of the Island and how they will be impacted by the implementation of the requirements.
There is a town forum Tuesday at the Boathouse Bar and Grill, located at 15241 Leeward Dr., at 5:30 p.m.