Lauding his parish's "semi-rural character" and acknowledging a practice that has been going on for years, St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne is pushing a proposal to legalize the use of golf carts on streets with speed limits of 25 mph or less.

Champagne sent a letter to Parish President Larry Cochran this week asking Cochran to propose an ordinance to the Parish Council that would allow residents with valid driver's licenses to operate golf carts on mostly residential streets.

A state law passed in 2015 prohibits the practice unless a local law is passed to allow it.

Champagne said the practice is so common that some residents refer to St. Charles Parish as a "golf cart" community.

His proposal would honor that longstanding practice but would require that drivers be licensed, register their golf carts and have insurance.

The carts should also have safety features, such as headlights, tail lights, brake lights and turn signals, he suggested.

Recently, Champagne said, unlicensed children and teenagers have been driving the carts "at all hours," which has presented a "huge safety issue." He said his office regularly receives reports about "close calls" of kids hurting themselves because they're using golf carts for joyriding.

Passing the suggested ordinance would help his officers deal with that problem, he said.

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