Designed to keep children and all passengers safe when on the road, the Georgia car seat laws regarding car seats and seat belts must be properly followed by all passengers to ensure safety. Understanding these laws is imperative for anyone who will be living or traveling in Georgia, as a full and complete understanding will ensure safety and eliminate the risk of a fine.
What to Know About Car Seats and Booster Seats
The law regarding car seats changed in Georgia in 2011. As of July 1, 2011, all children who are under eight years old must be in an appropriate and secured car seat or booster seat. They must be properly restrained whether they are in a van, passenger car, or a pickup truck.
Both car seats and booster seats must be located in the back of the vehicle, unless they meet criteria for certain exceptions. The car and booster seat must be the appropriate type for the child’s weight and height. To be legal, the seats must meet all applicable federal standards, and have to be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Recommendations for Rear Facing Infant Seats
All children who are under one year old must be restrained in a rear facing infant or car seat. Parents and guardians who are looking for a seat that will last their child for as long as possible may want to consider a convertible car seat, as they generally have higher weight and height limits. This means that children can ride facing the rear for longer, which is safer.
While it can be tempting to turn a child around so that they are facing the front, keeping them facing the rear of the car for as long as possible is important. This is because they are safer. It’s imperative that seats are installed correctly according to instructions.
Recommendations for Forward Facing Car Seats
When a child has reached the height or weight limit on their rear facing seat, then they can be turned around to face the front, but not before. Children who are between one and three years old may outgrow their rear facing seat and will need to be put in a forward facing seat that has a harness.
All children who are between four and seven years old must be kept in a forward facing seat until they reach the weight or height limit on the seat. It is only when a child has outgrown the top weight limit as set by the manufacturer that they are ready to be moved to a booster seat.
Recommendations for Booster Seats
Children must ride in a booster seat until they are large enough to have a seat belt properly fit on their body. The lap belt must ride low on the hips and rest on the upper thigh, not on the child’s stomach when they are in a booster seat. Shoulder belts should rest on the chest and shoulder and not cross the neck or face.
The safest place for any child, even in a booster seat, is the back of the car.
Exceptions to the Law
There are some exceptions to Georgia car seat laws regarding car seats. Children who are under eight years old, but taller than 4’9” are exempt. Additionally, if a child has a medical problem that prevents them from using a car seat, then a physician can write a statement to that effect.
Children are also exempt from this law when riding in a vehicle that doesn’t have a shoulder and lap belt. At this time, they may use their booster seat with a lap belt only.
Fines and Points
There are some consequences that parents and guardians will face if they do not follow the law regarding safety and car seats. On their first conviction, the adult will have to pay a maximum fine of $50. Every additional conviction carries a fine with a maximum of $100.
Convictions also result in points being added to the license. People convicted of breaking this law will have one point added to their license on the first conviction, and two points for every subsequent conviction. It’s easy to see how both fines and license points can add up quickly for people who continue to break this law.
The great thing about Georgia’s car seat laws is that they are very clear and easy for most people to understand, which reduces the likelihood of people accidentally putting their children in danger when riding in a vehicle.
Parents and guardians who want to avoid paying fines and having points added to their license need to make sure that they fully understand the laws regarding car seats in Georgia and that they take steps to follow it. Exceptions to the Georgia car seat laws are rare, and most parents or guardians will need to follow the laws completely to avoid problems and to ensure the safety of their child.