Georgia Car Seat Laws
Georgia Car Seat Safety
While babies always seem safest in the arms of a loved one, the opposite is true when traveling Georgia roadways with your little ones. Your baby is three-times more likely to be injured in a crash when he (or she) is not properly restrained. Until they reach the age of 12 months and weigh at least 20 pounds, infants must be restrained in a federally approved car seat.
All too often, car seats are installed improperly and/or children are improperly placed in such car seats. Further, many parents are not clear on what Georgia law requires, and may place their child in a vehicle without their child being properly secured in a car seat or booster seat. As such, it is imperative that we, as Georgia parents, understand the car seat laws, and do everything we can to adhere to those laws for the benefit of our children.
Proper use of child safety seats in cars reduces the infant fatality rate by 71 percent, and reduces the toddler (ages 1-4) fatality rate by 54 percent. Child safety seats respectively reduce the fatality rate in light-truck crashes by 58 and 59 percent. Given that car seats have proven to be essential to child safety, no parents should cut corners by failing to place their child in a car or booster seat.
Georgia Car Seat Laws
Because there have been many child fatalities across our Georgia roadways, lawmakers pushed to strengthen the child car seat laws. As the law stands today, 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 Car Seat Law
Fines and penalties await drivers who fail to comply with Georgia car 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.