PTC police use cart-path checkpoints, crackdown on underage drivers

Some path users were caught by surprise Wednesday afternoon when the Peachtree City Police Department operated a golf cart safety checkpoint on the path behind the Concord Village Apartments in the Braelinn Village area.

Dog walkers, cyclists and other pedestrians were allowed to pass through. But all golf carts had to stop briefly so the officers could verify the cart was being operated by the correct owner.

Officers were also looking for underage cart drivers, as the minimum solo driving age is 15 years old as long as the driver has a learner’s driving permit from the state of Georgia. Sure enough, one such violator was found.

The driver had to call her mom using an officer’s cellphone so she and the golf cart could be picked up from the scene.

While the girl was upset by the whole ordeal, others were grateful. A mother who rode by on her bike, led by her young son, thanked the officers for the show of force, “especially in this area.”

She was referring to the recently reported armed robbery that occurred on this path segment several weeks ago. Such incidents are quite rare in Peachtree City, but police and the public are sensitive to them nonetheless. In fact on Tuesday night police held a community meeting at the apartment complex which is likely to become a routine occurrence.

Officers at Wednesday’s cart path safety checkpoint also handed out pamphlets which contain a variety of information on the city’s path laws and requirements.

The city allows kids ages 12 through 14 to drive golf carts, although they must be accompanied in the front seat by a parent, grandparent or legal guardian, according to city ordinance. And those who are 15 years old but don’t yet have a learner’s permit must be accompanied in the front seat by a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or a person who is 18 or older and has a valid driver’s license.

The police cart path safety checkpoints aren’t new. They have also been deployed in other areas of town, including near McIntosh High School, which has a high concentration of golf carts because 15-year-olds are allowed to drive them, even though they can’t yet drive a car on their own.

The reason for checking the golf cart registrations is as simple as a time-honored, and reviled, tradition in Peachtree City: golf cart thefts. Because many can be started without a key, golf cart thefts become more common in the spring and summer months. Most times, the carts are taken for “joy rides” by youngsters, who ditch them after reaching their destination, police have previously reported.