CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — For more than a year now, the State of Texas has had a law on the books that requires all golf carts driven on public roads to have license plates.
To get one, you take proof of ownership of your golf cart and proof that you paid the sales tax to a tax assessor or collector's office and pay $14.95 to buy the plate.
You can multiply that cost by 70 for Randy Wilbanks.
That's how many golf carts he rents out of his store called North Padre Cart Rentals.
You'd think getting license plates for that many carts would be a hassle — but Wilbanks says he was able to give a spreadsheet with the required information from all of his carts to the county along with a series of checks as payment.
“It was pretty easy for me and the other golf cart companies here," he said.
Bulk purchases of license plates from people like Wilbanks have pushed the county's supply but haven't surpassed it.
“To my knowledge, they’ve never really run out of plates," Wilbanks said. "They’ve gotten pretty low a couple of times. The county was pretty quick about getting them back in order. And I did talk to them today, and they have plenty of plates in all locations.”
Those locations are the tax assessor and collectors offices in Port Aransas, in Bishop, and inside the Nueces County Courthouse.
Whether the Corpus Christi Police Department is enforcing the golf cart license plate requirement isn't clear.
Public Information Officer Lt. Michael Pena says officers are stopping and educating violators — not issuing them citations.
Wilbanks says he knows people who've actually gotten tickets.
Either way, the law is on the books to serve one purpose, and it's not to make sure golf carts and similar vehicles like utility task vehicles, or UTVs, are inspected or registered.
“It’s identification," Wilbanks said. "The police officer can actually type in that license plate number and know who the owner of that cart is. If they have a problem — they may run into somebody. And with UTV’s especially — probably 70, 80, 90 percent of them are all black. So you got hit by a black UTV going down the beach and they left? Police don’t stand a chance to find it. But if you get them that license plate number, they know who owns it.”