Seat Belt and Child Restraint Laws

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Not that many years ago there were no seatbelt or child restraint laws. An officer may pull a car over if children were jumping from seat to seat or doing something that looked dangerous, but it wasn’t uncommon to see children in a car, up and moving around, not seat belted at all. It was even common, years ago before child car sears were the norm, to find people driving with a baby lying on the seat next to them. The use of seat belts for adults and children, and child safety restrains like booster seats and infant car seats, drops the likelihood that you or a child will be seriously injured in an accident. If that’s not reason enough to use these safety devices, then the penalties for not using them are added incentive.

Seat Belt Laws

Only one state, New Hampshire, does not have seat belt laws in effect. Elsewhere during any traffic stop the officer will ensure that adults use safety belts, and will give seat belt ticket to those who do not. In some states, roughly half, the traffic stop can be made solely because the officer suspects adults of not wearing seat belts.

If you’re pulled over while you’re not wearing a seat belt, the penalties vary by state. In some states you only pay a seat belt ticket fine, because the ticket isn’t considered to be a moving violation. It’s more like a parking ticket than a speeding ticket. In other states, it is considered a moving violation to operate a motor vehicle without wearing a seatbelt, and the ticket can add points to your license and possibly affect your ability to drive and your insurance rate, especially if it’s not your first traffic ticket.

The fine for driving without a seatbelt can range from $10 to $200, depending on the state and whether or not they consider the ticket a moving violation. In states where it is considered a moving violation, the fine is usually much higher than in states where it’s not.

Child Restraints

There are a number of laws governing how children may ride in motor vehicles, all designed to protect their safety. Infants and small children must be safely restrained in a child car seat that’s secured with seatbelts to the seat of the vehicle, and they must be in the back seat to prevent a deployed air bag from slamming into the back of the seat and possibly injuring the child.

Older children must ride in a 'booster seat.' Seatbelts are designed for adults, so children under a certain age can’t use them properly. This makes using a standard seatbelt with a small child unsafe. They must use these safety seats, sometimes called ‘booster’ seats, until they reach a certain age, or more commonly, a certain size. Children under a certain size aren’t supposed to ride in the front seat in vehicles with a passenger-side airbag for the child’s protection.

After the child weighs enough that a safety seat isn’t required, the child must use the seat belt just like an adult.

Have you or someone you know been cited for a traffic violation? If so, contact one of our experienced traffic violation lawyers in your area today!

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