Debate over the legality of driving golf carts on public thoroughfares turned into the last hurdle for approval of the final draft of Chapala’s own traffic rules under consideration by the City Council’s Public Security and Transit Commission.
The five-member panel headed by Oscar España Ramos, the municipal government’s elected legal counsel, met Tuesday, March 13 for a final review of the 55-page document titled Reglamento de Tránsito y Vialidad para el Municipio de Chapala. With a unanimous vote to accept the content with several minor revisions, the regulatory code will be presented to the full council body for final approval. It will take effect following publication in the municipal gazette.
The matter of golf carts was the subject of lengthy discussion that took up nearly a full hour of the meeting. Councilor Juan Carlos Pelayo argued that the vehicles are essentially unsafe and inappropriate for circulation on the streets. Moisés Anaya countered, pointing out the environmental benefits of battery-powered vehicles in addition to recognizing that many cart owners already drive around the community.
Asked to weigh in, Municipal Traffic Chief Carlo Alejandro Borrayo suggested avoiding a flat-out prohibition on golf carts on the understanding that only properly licensed owners will be allowed to circulate freely. In other words, golf cart owners must adhere to rules applied to all other motor vehicles according to Jalisco law. That entails obtaining license tags, keeping yearly registration documents up to date and holding insurance protection. Drivers must also have valid driving permits issued in Jalisco, out of state, or out of country.
Commission members concurred with a proposal that may become problematic for golf carters since this state no longer issues tags and registrations for that type of vehicle. Some owners have obtained plates in other states which would presumably be legal here.
As for fines to be imposed for all types of traffic violations, the commission members agreed to simplify the municipal regulations by duplicating sanctions established by the state. They also accepted a suggestion to allow a one-month period of grace to forgive fines while citizens have an opportunity to become familiar with the local rules of the road.