Hawk Law Group | April 29, 2022 | Georgia Law
Georgia has some of the strongest child safety seat laws in the country. Under Georgia law, all child safety seats must comply with federal safety standards. All drivers transporting children under eight years old must use a safety seat.
Every year, Georgia has tens of thousands of car accidents involving at least one passenger under eight years old. Since being updated in 2011, Georgia’s child safety seat laws have saved hundreds of lives and prevented thousands of injuries.
Read on for an overview of Georgia’s child booster seat and restraint laws.
Georgia Traffic Accidents Involving Children
In 2020, Georgia had the fourth most child fatalities in traffic accidents among all states. Despite this grim statistic, child fatalities and injuries decreased when Georgia strengthened its child safety seat laws in 2011.
Before 2011, Georgia’s law only applied to children under age six. Georgia amended its law in 2011 to cover children up to age eight. According to legislators who backed the change, 95% of injured children between ages six and eight were improperly restrained.
Georgia’s Booster Seat and Restraint Laws
Georgia’s law requires children under age eight to ride in a “child passenger restraining system appropriate for such child’s height and weight.” This requirement applies to drivers of passenger cars, vans, and pickup trucks. It excludes taxis and public transit vehicles that carry more than 15 passengers.
According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, this law requires you to adjust the child’s restraining system as the child grows. For the first one to three years of the child’s life or until the child weighs 20 pounds, the child should ride in a rear-facing car seat.
When the child grows out of the rear-facing car seat, the child should switch to a front-facing car seat with a five-point harness system. You will recognize this seat because it has two shoulder straps that buckle into a lap belt, similar to a pilot’s seat harness.
The child should remain in the front-facing car seat until the child weighs 40 pounds. After outgrowing the front-facing car seat, the child can move to a booster seat.
A booster works with the car’s seat belt by lifting the child high enough that the shoulder strap sits on the child’s shoulder and chest rather than their neck. This ensures that the child will not suffer a neck injury or slip under the shoulder belt during a crash.
At age eight, or when the child reaches four feet, nine inches tall, they can switch to the car’s seat belt without the booster.
Child’s Position in the Car
Children under the age of eight can only ride in the backseat of a vehicle. If the vehicle has no backseat or the backseat is occupied by other children under the age of eight, the child can sit in the front seat with the appropriate child restraint system.
Penalties for Violations
Law enforcement officers can stop you for violating the child safety restraint law without observing any other traffic violations. A judge can fine you $50 for a first offense under the law.
If you purchase a compliant child safety restraint before your court hearing, a judge can waive the $50 fine. The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) adds one point to your driving record for a first offense.
For subsequent offenses, the fine increases to $100. DDS will add two points to your driving record, beginning with a second offense.
Child Booster Seats and Restraints Reduce Injuries
Georgia takes child safety restraints very seriously. Compliance with the law can get costly. As your child ages, you will buy three different restraint systems.
But a correctly installed and properly used child restraint system decreases the risk of injury between 54% and 71%, depending on the child’s age. Following the law could save your child’s life.
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