Atlanta Attorney Bubba Head Explains How Being Pulled Over for a Child Car Seat Violation Can Lead to DUI Child Endangerment
If a driver with passengers under the age of 14 happens to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when pulled over for a car seat violation, the police officer has grounds for multiple charges of DUI Child Endangerment, which in O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 is called “endangering a child by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”. This charge is separate from any charges of DUI, and each child in the car constitutes a separate child endangerment charge.
If there were indeed car seat violations, those charges also count as additional charges. Such circumstances can result in substantial jail time and/or license suspension because if the driver is convicted of DUI and he or she was transporting two children under the age of 14, the driver would have 3 DUIs on their permanent record. At this point the driver may be subject to Georgia’s habitual violator (HV) law and its harsh penalties.
Georgia car seat law requires children to be secured in vehicles in various manners depending upon a number of factors. According to O.C.G.A. 40-8-76 (Georgia Code), the requirements are as follows:
Once children reach 4’9’’ in height and seat belts fit properly, they are no longer required by Georgia law to use a booster seat. In order to ensure proper safety, children should continue to ride in the backseat and use a Safety Belt. It is, however, no longer required by law that children sit in the back seat once they reach age 13. Use of a safety belt is required until the age of 18.
Any child car seat manufacturer or booster seat manufacturer in the United States must meet or exceed strict federal government standards for being able to withstand car accidents. Similar standards are set for Georgia’s child passenger safety laws and rear-facing seat standards.
For a quick overview of Georgia car seat laws, this helpful chart gives a snapshot of ages, weights, heights, appropriate seat locations, and seating position categories:
A police officer may pull over a vehicle under ‘reasonable suspicion’ if they observe child passengers through a vehicle’s window who are in clear violation of Georgia child passenger safety laws. An officer who had reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop CAN investigate other possible crimes even if the vehicle complies with the car seat safety law.
A prime example of a car seat violation becoming a more serious charge is an arrest for DUI in Georgia. This escalation can occur when an officer smells alcohol or marijuana, or observes a violation of the open container law.
Georgia is one of the nation’s strictest states when it comes to adding felony or misdemeanor child endangerment punishment to any DUI conviction. Under GA child endangerment laws, a first or second DUI child endangerment is a misdemeanor DUI. A third DUI endangerment is a felony.
Vehicular accidents are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. Proper use of car seats reduces the risk of infant death by up to 71%. Proper use of car seats and booster seats reduces the risk of death for children aged 1-4 by up to 54%, according to the CDC. A quick set of bullet points for child car seat laws in Georgia include:
If you are unsure whether your child’s car seat is properly installed, The City of Atlanta Fire Department can help. They have certified child safety technicians on staff at 33 fitting stations located throughout the city. They are open seven days a week from 8:00 am to 7:30 pm. Find a location near you by clicking here or by calling 404-546-7000.
Researchers gathered the following data from child health care professionals and highway safety agencies to determine guidelines. Sources include the Atlanta-based CDC, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and the NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
Our DUI law firm can handle all motor vehicle crimes, including traffic tickets, and misdemeanor and felony DUIs. Since almost all Georgia driving under the influence cases START with another traffic ticket, our attorneys MUST fight the traffic offense AND the Georgia DUI charge.
Get FREE Legal Advice and an in-person FREE lawyer consultation, for any Georgia traffic violation or criminal charge. Call 404-567-5515 to talk to a lawyer NOW. Our DUI attorneys (Bubba Head, Larry Kohn, and ex-cop Cory Yager) answer your calls 24-7. What do you have to lose? Ask about attorney fees, our payment plans, and DUI lawyer cost for complex impaired driving cases that will take some time to resolve.