Modern child safety seats are designed to protect small children during crashes or sudden stops. The good news is that the rate of child fatalities from crashes has dropped by 56% since 1975. Along with other modern safety features, child safety seats have been a key part of that reduction. There are several laws in New York regarding safety seats for children and infants, and parents may not be familiar with all the rules. For example, a parent may unintentionally use the wrong type of car seat for a child of a certain age.
If you recently received a ticket for a child safety seat violation in New York, do not panic. We are here to help you fight it. Just send us a message or call 212-683-7373 for immediate assistance.
Child Seat Laws in New York
According to New York State’s Child Passenger Safety laws, all children under the age of 2 must be in a rear-facing safety seat while in the car. Children over 2 years old or above the height and weight limits for rear-facing seats should be in convertible seats facing the rear or forward-facing seats with proper harnesses. Section 1229-c of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic laws state that children under four years of age must be in an affixed, compliant safety seat. The right type often depends on weight, which will be discussed later. Once kids outgrow convertible and front-facing seats, they must be in booster seats with child restraint systems until their eighth birthday.
According to Standard 213 of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, there are several tests that all types of child car seats must pass to be approved for use. New York requires child seats that are used in cars to be certified as compliant with Standard 213. Additionally, parents or anyone else who uses child safety seats to transport young children must install the seats correctly. The state has multiple fitting stations where people can go to ensure that they are installing and using approved car seats correctly.
What Kind of Child Seats and Booster Seats Should Be Used?
The New York Department of Motor Vehicles recommends and outlines four different types of child seats that are commonly available from retailers. Standard 213 describes these child safety seats in greater detail and includes information about securing them. These are the four types of seats.
Infant Seats: Rear Vs. Forward Facing Car Seats
Infant seats are designed for babies who are 25 inches or less in length and weigh 22 pounds or less. Seats for infants should never be in the front. The front passenger airbags can potentially cause serious harm if they deploy. Infants should always be in the back seat. Before the child reaches the maximum weight or height limit, the seat should face toward the rear of the vehicle. Some people wonder why a car seat for an infant should face the rear. This is because a rear-facing seat will absorb more of the crash force. Alternatively, a forward-facing seat does not absorb as much force and can leave the baby’s spine and head more vulnerable to injuries.
Convertible Child Safety Seats
Convertible seats are designed to protect kids who weigh about 40 pounds or less, and they can be adjusted as a child grows. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s adjustment instructions carefully. Although convertible seats can face both ways, they should still face the rear of the vehicle until the child is two years of age to comply with state laws. However, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommends keeping even toddlers in convertible seats that face the rear as long as possible in accordance with a seat’s weight and height limits.
Once a child outgrows a convertible seat, the next step is a booster seat. Booster seats are designed for kids who are about four to eight years of age and weigh between 40 pounds and 80 pounds. Also, they are designed for kids who are under four feet and nine inches in height. Once a child reaches the right age and height, an adult seat belt should fit the child correctly without the use of a booster seat. When using a booster seat, do not use only the lap belt. Always use the lap and shoulder belts.
Built-in Vehicle Child Seats
These are available today in some modern vehicles. A built-in child safety seat folds down away from the regular passenger seats. While they may be suitable for some children, they should never be used for infants. Always carefully read and follow any use guidelines for these seats to ensure they comply with state guidelines before relying on them.
Fines and Penalties for Violating the VTL 1229-c Child Safety Seat Law in New York
Without the help of an experienced New York traffic ticket attorney with a proven track record of success, the penalties for violating VTL 1229-c can be harsh. Potential penalties can negatively impact a person’s driving record, insurance, and finances. If convicted, a person with a child safety seat ticket may have 3 points added to his or her driver’s license. Since improper restraint is considered a safety risk, insurance rates typically rise. Subdivision 2 and Subdivision 3 of Section 1229-c outline rules about child safety seat use. According to Subdivision 5, the fine for violating Subdivision 2 or 3 is between $25 and $100.
People with children in safety seats must also carefully monitor them as much as possible while driving. Some older children may be able to unbuckle a safety harness. If a driver is stopped and this happens, the driver is still considered liable for the safety violation. In some cases, people are stopped by police officers multiple times for this type of offense within a short period.
When there are combined tickets for other offenses, the penalties can be even more detrimental. For example, imagine that a police officer stops a person for going over the speed limit. If the police officer notices that a young child is improperly restrained during the stop, the ticket for that includes additional points. Instead of simply receiving the 3 points for a restraint violation, the person could receive additional points (3-11 points depending on the speed).
With enough points on a license, a person can face license suspension in addition to higher insurance premiums. For busy parents who need to transport their kids to different places, this is especially detrimental. Because of the potential penalties tied to a child safety seat violation and any other accompanying tickets, it is critical to work with an attorney for the most favorable outcome.
Fight Your Ticket Today
Do you or someone you know need help with a recent VTL 1229-c violation? Now is the time to contact our New York traffic ticket team of lawyers to discuss your ticket and the details of the situation. Our traffic ticket attorneys know the laws and provisions, and they know how to help you fight for a dismissal, reduced charges, or penalties that are less severe. Our firm has helped many other people fight child safety seat violations in New York and see better outcomes. Please send us a message or call us at 212-683-7373 to discuss your ticket today.