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Child Safety Restraint Violation

Seat belts are built for adults and do not fit children properly. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages one (1) to thirteen (13). As a result, many states have passed laws requiring that children be properly restrained in car seats or booster seats until they are physically large enough for seat belts to protect them in the event of an accident.

O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76 is the Georgia statute that governs child safety restraints, and lists the penalties for violations of the statute. Essentially, the law states that every driver who transports a child under the age of eight (8) in a car, van, or pickup truck must properly restrain the child in a safety seat appropriate for the child's height and weight. The law applies while the motor vehicle is in motion and operated on a public road, street, or highway of the state.

A driver is only in compliance with the law if the child safety restraint is the correct one for the child's height and weight, and if it is properly installed. NHTSA has detailed information about choosing the correct car seat to best protect your child. Additionally, NHTSA provides tools on its website to help you ensure that the car seat is installed properly, and has a list of locations where drivers can go to have their car seats inspected. Click here for more information.

Exceptions to the Child Safety Restraint Requirement

There are several exceptions to the Child Safety Restraint requirements. First, a child weighing at least 40 pounds may be secured by a lap belt when:

  • The vehicle is not equipped with both lap and shoulder belts, or
  • All other lap and shoulder belts in the vehicle are being used to restrain other children.

Other exceptions include Medical Necessity and exemptions for certain vehicles (discussed below).

Medical Necessity

If the child's parent or guardian receives a written statement from a licensed physician indicating that a physical or medical condition prevents the child from being restrained, the provisions of the law do not apply. If the parent or guardian can show the child's height is over 4'9", the child shall be restrained in a safety belt.

Certain Vehicles are Exempt

Taxicabs are exempt from the law, as are public transit vehicles.

What are the possible penalties for violation of the Child Safety Restraint Requirement?

First Violation

For a first conviction under O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76, the defendant shall be fined not more than $50, except where the child is six (6) or seven (7) years old and where the defendant can show that, prior to court, he or she has installed a car seat meeting the requirements of the law. In that case, the judge may waive or suspend the fine. A first conviction will result in one (1) point being assessed on a defendant's driver's license. Click here to learn more about how points can affect your ability to keep driving.

Second or Subsequent Violation

For a second or later conviction of the Child Safety Restraint Law, the fine may be up to $100, with no additional fees or surcharges. The court is required to send a copy of the disposition to the Department of Driver Services for record-keeping purposes, and two (2) points will be assessed by the Department of Driver Services. Click here to learn more about how points can affect your ability to keep driving.

Why hire a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney for a Child Safety Restraint Ticket?

If you have been charged with violating the Georgia Child Safety Seat, give me a call for a free consultation. This is especially important if you already have some points on your driver's license. Even though the fine is relatively minor, any traffic offense can result in spending a whole day in court, losing time at work, etc. Questions about this offense or any other Georgia criminal or traffic matter? Call me today.

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Kevin Fisher

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