Georgia Booster Seat Laws
Child Passenger Safety in Georgia
All states have their own unique laws regarding child safety seats and seatbelt use. In Georgia, the booster seat laws have been strengthened in response to a saddening large number of Georgia children being seriously injured or tragically killed in automobile accidents. Booster seats have been proven to help reduce the risk of injury or death in children, and Georgia’s enhanced booster seat laws are aimed to encourage their proper use for children younger than eight (8) years old.
Failure to use, or the improper use of, booster seats and other child restraints resulted in 1,755 injuries and ten deaths to six to eight-year-old child passengers in 2008 along Georgia roadways. That year, roadway crashes involved 14,152 child passengers, yet barely 12 percent of those six to eightyear-olds were restrained in a booster seat or other child safety seat secured by an adult seat belt.
Of the 1,755 child passengers injured in 2008, 248 required hospital care, which totaled approximately $7 million for treatment of traumatic injuries. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta estimates that, over a four-year period, 95 percent of the 6-8-year-old child passengers treated for crash-related injuries were not properly restrained.
Georgia Booster Seat Laws
The statistics mentioned above prompted state officials to strengthen Georgia’s booster seat law. Under O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76(b)(1), drivers transporting children under the age of eight (8) in a moving passenger automobile van, or pickup truck must provide for the proper restraint of the child in a child passenger restraining system appropriate for the child’s height and weight. Further, the child passenger restraining system must be approved by the United States Department of Transportation.
In addition to having the child passenger restraining system, the child must be restrained in a rear seat of the motor vehicle. However, if the vehicle does not have a rear seat, then the child must be properly restrained in the front seat of the motor vehicle.
As with most laws, there are a couple of exceptions to Georgia’s booster seat laws. If your child is under the age of eight (8), but is more than 4 feet 9 inches (57 inches) tall, then your child is exempt from the requirement that he or she must be restrained in an approved child passenger restraining system. Further, if your child is under the age of eight (8), but weighs at least forty (40) pounds, then he or she is exempt from the requirement that he or she must be restrained in an approved child passenger restraining system. While children meeting any one of the two exceptions need not be placed in a booster seat, he or she must still use a shoulder and lap belt in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1.
A child who is over forty (40) pounds can use a lap belt, but only if there are no shoulder belts in the vehicle, or if positions that have lap-shoulder belts are being used to properly restrain other children. Further, if there are only lap belts in the rear of the motor vehicle, then the child may be placed in the front street. It is extremely important that parents understand that even though children eight (8) years and older may be secured in a passenger motor vehicle without a booster seat, he or she should still stay in the rear of the vehicle until the age of thirteen (13) years old.
Penalties for Failure to Comply with Georgia’s Booster Seat Law
Fines and penalties await drivers who fail to comply with Georgia booster seat law. Such fines and penalties can sometimes be harsh, and include the following:
- First conviction – $50 maximum fine and loss of one driver’s license point; and
- Subsequent convictions – $100 maximum fine and loss of two driver’s license points for each subsequent offense.
While one or two convictions may not have devastating consequences, additional convictions could leave you without a driver’s license, and this harms not only you, but also your loved ones, as your driving privileges could be restricted for an indefinite period of time. If you are unable to get from point A to point B, you may have difficulty completing life’s daily tasks. Simply placing your child in a car or booster seat in compliance with Georgia law will help to ensure you can keep your driver’s license and meet the daily life needs of your loved ones.