Galveston City Council weighs banning golf cart rentals after fatal accident involving suspected drunk driver

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A recent incident in which a suspected drunk driver killed four people riding a golf cart in Galveston, Texas, now has officials from the island city considering banning rentals of the vehicle altogether. 

The victims from Rosenberg, which included two children ages 14 and 4, died last Saturday around 11:30 p.m. after Miguel Espinoza, who was drunk, blew through a stop sign in his SUV and crashed into a Dodge pickup truck and the golf cart, Galveston Police told Fox26 Houston.  

The collision also left two people in critical condition and Espinoza, who is charged with four counts of intoxicated manslaughter, is being held on $400,000 bond. 

“The city of Galveston sends our thoughts and prayers to all the families that were involved in this accident,” Mayor Craig Brown said. 

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A golf cart rental company in Galveston, Texas.

A golf cart rental company in Galveston, Texas. (Google Maps)

At a Galveston City Council meeting Thursday night, members discussed new restrictions for the 1,743 permitted golf carts in the city, including banning children under 12 from riding in them, prohibiting nighttime driving and banning golf cart rental companies outright, Fox26 Houston reported. 

The ideas were met with mixed reviews. A vote could come in late August. 

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This booking photo provided by the Galveston Police Department on Sunday, Aug. 7, shows Miguel Espinoza

This booking photo provided by the Galveston Police Department on Sunday, Aug. 7, shows Miguel Espinoza (Galveston Police Department via AP)

“I am a pro-businessperson, I support small business, large business, but I would not be opposed to taking an approach to banning rental golf carts,” said Councilmember Marie Robb. “And I have friends who have companies. I feel bad. I know it would be a financial hurt to them.” 

But Brown suggested such a move would go too far. 

People ride a golf cart on Seawall Boulevard as waves from Hurricane Laura roll in on Aug. 26, 2020 in Galveston, Texas

People ride a golf cart on Seawall Boulevard as waves from Hurricane Laura roll in on Aug. 26, 2020 in Galveston, Texas (Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

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“I think for us to have all of a sudden, a knee-jerk reaction and shut down an entire industry just because we have rightly so, a horrific accident, that was caused by an allegedly drunken driver,” he said, according to Fox26 Houston. “To close a whole industry down for that, I think is an overreaction on this.” 

Galveston Police told the station that out of the 32 golf cart accidents between June 2021 to August 2022, 12 resulted in injuries, two of which led to deaths. 

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