New York law is very clear: kids aged 4 and under must be in a safety seat, and all children under the age of 8 must ride in child restraint systems, such as booster seats.
Further, kids under the age of 16 must wear seatbelts no matter where they are in the vehicle; it doesn’t matter if they’re in the front seat or the back seat.
Police can pull you over if your child, or any child in your vehicle, is not properly restrained in a child safety seat. You don’t have to be in the middle of committing another traffic violation, such as speeding, in order for police to pull you over and issue you a ticket.
The law explicitly says, “An appropriate child restraint system is one that meets the child’s size and weight and the specifications of the manufacturer of such system. A child restraint system may be a child safety seat, harness, vest or a booster seat. The vehicle’s safety belt alone is NOT a child restraint system.”
Children riding in taxicabs or on buses do not have to be restrained in safety seats. That means police won’t ticket you if your child or a child you’re riding with isn’t in a car seat or booster.
Further, in a cab or on a bus, kids under the age of 7 are permitted to sit on an adult’s lap.
It’s important that you know New York doesn’t have a law that prevents kids from sitting in the front seat, but they do recommend that children 12 and younger ride in the back seat.
If you receive a ticket for driving a car with an unrestrained child in it, you’re facing fines and points on your driver’s license.
The penalty for a car seat violation in NYC is a fine of up to $100. The driver is the one who is penalized, and further, the driver can expect up to three driver violation points on his or her license upon conviction.
Remember that if you pay the fine, you’re admitting guilt – and that ensures that you’re convicted of failing to properly restrain a child in a car seat.
In addition to the fines and fees you’ll have to pay, your car insurance could go up. Your insurance company periodically checks the number of points on your license, and because most insurers feel that people with points are more risky to insure, you could end up paying more than you should have to for auto insurance.
There’s nothing stopping you from paying the fine associated with a child seat violation. However, if you do, you’re basically telling the state of New York that you’re guilty. That’s when they can add points to your driving record.
If you do choose to pay the fine, make sure that you do it within the small window of time that the state allows you. If they receive your payment late, they can (and usually will) suspend your driver’s license as a result.
You do not have to pay the fine without trying to fight the ticket, though. You may be able to avoid the fine and the penalties by working with an attorney who will speak on your behalf.
The same law that governs child safety restraints also says, “The court shall waive any fine for which a person who violates the provisions of this section would be liable with respect to passengers under the age of seven if such person supplies the court with proof that, between the date on which he is charged with having violated this section and the appearance date for such violation, he purchased or rented a child restraint system which meets the requirements of subdivision one of this section. Provided, however, that such waiver of fine shall not apply to a second or subsequent conviction under this section.”
If you’ve received a child seat ticket, a lawyer may be able to help you.
My cell phone is my business line, and I know that you may receive a ticket outside of normal business hours – that’s why I keep my phone on all the time.
Call me at 917-856-1247 or contact me online. I may be able to help you with your ticket and, at the same time, preserve your rights… and your driving privileges.