Seat Belt Ticket
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It should come as no surprise to any motorist that you are required to wear a seat belt at all times. Occasionally, a driver slips up and forgets to click up but this offense is also charged in instances where passengers are not belted or young children are not properly restrained. Should police officers see that you or your passengers are not belted, they can immediately pull you over as this is a primary offense, meaning that the officer can stop and detain you merely for you or a passenger not being restrained.
There are circumstances where a seat belt is not required, including riding on a bus. If you are a mail carrier, meter reader, garbage truck driver or newspaper delivery person, you are not required to wear a seat belt but only while driving on your routes. If you are in a cab or limousine, only the front seat passengers are required to buckle up.
Responsibility for Passengers
As an adult, you are legally responsible for your passengers having their seat belts on. Parents who may not be driving but who are passengers in the vehicle are responsible for buckling up their children who are under 16, but you assume that responsibility if the parent is not in the car with you.
Children and Seat Belts
A child under the age of six or weighing less than 60 pounds must be restrained in the back seat and by an appropriate child safety seat. You can have the child in the front but only if there are passengers over the age of 12 in the rear and no room is available or the child has a medical condition requiring him or her to be in the front.
To ride in the front seat under these circumstances, the child must weigh over 20 pounds and be over a year old. Their child seat must also be facing forward. A deployed airbag that strikes a child facing rearward is more likely to cause serious physical damage.
If you have a child restraint seat but are concerned about its appropriateness or are having a problem adjusting it, find a California seat belt inspection station or go to your town’s police department and have an officer inspect your seat.
Although not required, the NHTSA recommends using a child safety seat until your child is 8 years of age or 4 feet, 9 inches tall.
Penalties for Seat Belt Tickets & Violations
Seat belt violations only warrant a fine, which is dependent on the age of the unbelted person, but the fines are substantial. If the passenger is 16 or older, the fine is $142, but the county and court will assess additional costs so it will be even higher.
If the passenger is under 16, the fine goes to the accompanying parent or, if absent, to the driver. in this case, the fine for a first offense is $445, before the added county and court costs.
If you are low income and can show that you cannot afford a child safety seat, the statute allows the court to waive the fine and direct you to where a seat may be obtained for little or no cost.
If a child was not properly restrained, you should receive a point on your driving record. Like other moving violations, you may have the point erased after paying the fine and completing a traffic violator course so long as you do not have any other moving violations in the past 18-months.
Consult a Traffic Ticket Attorney
If you have any questions about your seat belt violation ticket, wish to contest it or had a medical reason why you could wear a seat belt as a defense, consider talking to a California traffic ticket lawyer to discuss your legal options.