In Louisiana law, a child under thirteen years of age being transported in a motor vehicle equipped with safety belts must be properly secured.
A child under six years old or weighing sixty pounds or less must be secured in a child restraint system complying with United States Department of Transportation standards, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, in a seating position allowing adequate space for installation and equipped with a safety belt system, and must be seated in any available rear seat if the passenger side air bag is activated. A child restraint system is defined as an age- or size-appropriate child safety seat, a shoulder harness, or a lap belt as required by the law.
A child between the ages of six and twelve years old or who weighs more than sixty pounds must be restrained in an appropriately sized child booster seat or properly adjusted and fastened safety belt, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A child booster seat is defined as a child passenger restraint system designed to elevate a child to sit properly in a federally approved safety belt system meeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
A child thirteen years old or older must have a properly fastened safety belt around his or her body when in a motor vehicle in forward motion.
A child who may be placed in more than one category because of his or her age or weight must be restrained in accordance with the more protective category.
Babies and Children Up to One Year Old
A child under one year old or weighing less than twenty pounds must be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat.
Children One and Three Years Old
A child between the ages of one and three years old or who weighs at least twenty pounds and less than forty pounds must be restrained in a forward-facing child safety seat.
Children Four to Five Years Old
A child between the ages of four and five years old or who weighs at least forty pounds and not more than sixty pounds must be restrained in a child booster seat, unless the child weighs more than forty pounds and the child’s seating position only has a lap belt available.
Children Six to Twelve Years Old
A child between the ages of six and twelve years old or who weighs more than sixty pounds must be restrained in an appropriately sized child booster seat or with the motor vehicle’s safety belter properly adjusted and fastened according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Children Thirteen Years Old and Older
A child thirteen years old or older must have a properly fastened safety belt around his or her body when in a passenger car, van, sports utility vehicle, or pickup truck having a gross weight of ten thousand pounds or less, in forward motion.
Penalties for Violations
For failure to use any child restraint system, you may be fined $100.00 for a first offense, $250.00 to $500.00 for a second offense, and $500.00 plus court costs for a third or subsequent offense.
For failure to use an age- or size-appropriate child restraint system, you may be fined up to $100.00 plus fees and court costs.
For failure to use a safety belt, you may be fined $50.00 for a first offense, $75.00 for a second offense, and $75.00 plus court costs for a third or subsequent offense.
You may only be stopped and ticketed for violating the Child Passenger Restraint System Statute once within twenty-four hours.
Law Enforcement May Stop Your Vehicle for a Failure to Use a Child Restraint System Or Safety Belt
Failure to secure a child in any type of child restraint system or safety belt is a primary offense for which you may be stopped. Failure to secure a child in an age- or size-appropriate restraint is a secondary offense for which you may be cited only if stopped for a moving violation.
You may be exempt if your vehicle is a bicycle, farm tractor, motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, truck with a manufacturer’s rating carrying capacity of over two thousand pounds, ambulance, other emergency vehicle, school bus, church bus, private bus, recreational vehicle with a capacity of over ten passengers, or a commercial truck, van, or taxi.
You may be exempt if your motor vehicle does not contain enough age- or size- appropriate passenger restraint systems or seat belts and the unrestrained child is seated in a rear seat, if available.
You may be exempt if your motor vehicle is being used as an ambulance or other emergency vehicle, in the case of a life-threatening emergency involving you or your child, or if your child is physically unable to use a child passenger safety system or safety belt due to medical reasons.
* Ms. Blake is licensed in the state of Maryland. The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.