By: William C. Head, Criminal Defense Attorney Atlanta and Traffic Ticket Lawyer in Georgia
As with all state motor vehicle regulations, Georgia car seat laws are very specific and detailed. The Georgia Legislature has the power to dictate mandatory child passenger safety laws, applicable to all operators (e.g., daycare facility owners, relatives, grandparents, boyfriends) of any motor vehicle in GA. These Georgia car seat laws or booster laws must be complied with by parents, but also by EVERY other person transporting dependent, vulnerable children. All drivers are held to the same standard of strict compliance or face serious criminal charges for traffic law violations.
These child car seat statutes are meant to regulate the use of our roadways through driver license issuance and suspension, by passing laws such as the Georgia car seat laws and Georgia booster seat law. The legislative process (to determine when the use of a car seat or booster is required and when to mandate rear-facing car seats) involved gathering data from child health care professionals and highway safety agencies. These sources included the Atlanta-based CDC, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Georgia car seat laws were enacted with volumes of fatality and injury reports from car accidents. Knowing the dynamics and “physics” of collisions where a child passenger was not properly restrained or positioned in a rear-facing child safety seat helped shape the current laws. While no safety measures can save a child’s life in some car crashes, the Georgia booster seat law and Georgia child restraint laws criminally penalize omission to properly position and secure a child (e.g., 5-point harness and rear-facing seat). Such negligence or callous disregard of Georgia car seat laws has led to death or crippling injuries.
In enacting booster seat requirements and Georgia child restraint laws, these factors must all be taken into account to know which type of booster seat, lap and shoulder belts, rear-facing seat, or restraint is to be used.
All child restraint seats manufactured or sold in the United States have to meet or exceed strict federal government standards for being able to withstand car accidents. This includes the Georgia car seat laws that are very similar to most other states’ booster seat laws and rear-facing seat standards.
Decades of car accident crashes by auto racers have proven that car seats with the five-point harness are the safest for all vehicle passengers and drivers because they restrain the occupant’s whole entire body instead of merely controlling the child’s neck and shoulder area. Some collisions or impacts (i.e., Dale Earnhardt) are not survivable, but following all of the Georgia car seat laws is protection for almost all car wrecks involving children.
For a quick overview of booster seat laws in Georgia and child restraint requirements in Georgia, this helpful chart gives a quick picture of ages, weights, heights, appropriate seat location, and “positioning” categories of Georgia car seat laws.
When a law enforcement officer observes children through the windows of a motor vehicle and sees an apparent violation of a Georgia car seat law, he or she is authorized to use blue lights and siren to pull over that vehicle. This is called “articulable suspicion” that a traffic law in Georgia is being broken. Even if all car seat laws in GA are being complied with, an officer who had reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop CAN detect other crimes and investigate those suspicions, too. The prime example is an arrest for DUI in Georgia; this can happen when an officer smells alcohol, or marijuana, or sees a violation of the open container law.
Being arrested for DUI with a child in the car is a devastating, life-changing event if the driver has both an arrest for DUI in GA and additional child endangerment charges. Every passenger under age 14 will be accused as an additional child endangerment DUI. While about 8 states do make every child endangerment charge a felony, Georgia is among the nation’s toughest states in terms of adding felony or misdemeanor child endangerment punishment to any conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Under GA child endangerment laws, a first or second DUI child endangerment is a misdemeanor DUI. A 3rd DUI endangerment or more are DUI felonies.
Whether you are looking for a traffic ticket lawyer, or a DUI attorney for a serious misdemeanor, or felony drunk driving case lawyer, our DUI law firm can handle all motor vehicle crimes. Since almost all Georgia driving under the influence START with another traffic ticket, we MUST fight the underlying traffic offense as well as have our drunk driving attorneys challenging the arrest for a Georgia DUI charge.
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