January 30, 2012
The Law Offices of O'Mara and Padilla pride ourselves on spreading news pertaining to safety regulations. As of January 1, 2012 the new California Booster Seat Law 2012 has been in effect. Previously, the law stated that a child of 6 years of age weighing less than 60 pounds was required to be secured in a rear seat in a child restraint that met federal standards, however children were allowed to to ride properly secured in front seat if all rear seats were occupied by a child under the age of 12. The New law is a extention of the previous law by requiring children to ride in booster seats in the back seat until their 8th birthday.
Enforcement and Penalty:
The new law will be enforced with strict and stiff fines, along with penalties for violations including the possibility of child endangerment charges. California Highway Patrol can fine violators more than $475 and give a violation point on their driving record for each improperly secured child younger than 16.
Seat Belts are constructed with the intention of a adult occupying the seat, they are not intended for the use of a child who is not at least 4'9″ tall. A booster seat raises the child in the seat, to ensure that the seat belt fits properly. A properly fit seatbelt allows the lap belt to lay across the upper thighs, never on the stomach; and allows the shoulder harness to lay across the shoulder and chest, never across the face or neck. Studies have shown that keeping children in a booster seat increases their chance of survival in a crash by 45 percent.
The New California Car Seat Law does contain a provision. If the child is under 8 years of age but does meet the 4'9″ height requirement they may use a safety belt rather than a child safety seat or booster seat. To tell if a child is ready to use a vehicle safety belt without a booster, they should pass this 5-step test:
- 1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
- 2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
- 3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
- 4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
- 5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If you answer "no" to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to make both the shoulder and lap belt fit right.