LOUISIANA’S NEW CAR SEAT LAWS
On August 1st, a new child car seat law takes effect in Louisiana. It makes the laws concerning car seats stricter and safer. While this law will be for the best in the long run, there is often a time of confusion after a new law takes place. If you have a child or drive children under the age of 18, it is best to know what these changes are and how, or if, they will affect you — especially in the event that you get in a car wreck and have to demonstrate that you’re not to blame for the accident.
Biggest Changes to Louisiana Car Seat Laws
The biggest changes surrounding this law are the changes in age. The age requirements are made stricter and hold more to manufacturer suggestions. Any child under the age of 18 who is riding in a car has to have a seatbelt. If there is not a seatbelt in the car, they cannot legally ride in it. They also must be buckled in.
Babies and Toddlers
For those of you with babies and toddlers, the suggestion of keeping your child in a rear-facing seat until two has now become law. They must stay rear-facing until they reach the height and weight requirements set by the manufacturer. Many manufacturers design their car seats for the newborn to 30+ pounds and 32-inch height ranges. It is very important that you check the manufacturer manual for the car seat you own, since each one is a little different.
Four to Nine-Year-Olds
The next change is for those with children who are at least four. At this point, if they have outgrown the forward-facing height and weight requirements of your car seat, they can be moved to a booster seat. Again, you must make sure that you are complying with the manufacturer’s instructions when buckling them in. They also need to stay in a booster seat until they are at least nine.
Children Nine and Over
If, after the age of nine, your child has outgrown the height and weight requirements of the booster seat, they can ride in the back seat of a vehicle with just the seatbelt. The seatbelt needs to fit them correctly, and the child has to be tall enough so that their knees bend over the edge of the seat. They have to ride in the back seat until they are at least 13.
Now, for those of you with children who are larger or smaller than average, there is a caveat in this law that says if the child fits into more than one category, they need to be placed in whichever one is more protective.
What Happens If You Don’t Comply?
These new laws are not merely suggestions, and they will be enforced by the local and county police. There are fines in place for those who do not comply with the new laws. The first offense comes with the hefty fine of $1,000. For the second offense, it is no less than $200 and no more than $500.
Not only is it important to comply with these laws because of the criminal fines that may occur, but because they are being implemented to keep your children safe. If you were to get into an accident with your child, and if they were unfortunately injured, it may be difficult to get compensation for their medical fees if you weren’t following the new law.
Why Louisiana Seatbelt Law Is Important
This new law is very specific and may seem like overkill. Maybe you or your parents managed to survive before car seat laws were enforced, so how much does it actually help? Well, properly used car seats can reduce up to 70% of infant deaths in car wrecks, up to 54% for toddlers under four, and up to 50% for kids between four and eight. Since the 1970s child deaths due to car wrecks have decreased, so even if the laws do seem excessive, they are obviously doing what they were intended to.
With this new law, it is a good time to reflect on your own safety habits. Buckling yourself up will increase your safety and make your children less objectionable to their own safety restraints. If you need more information about this new law or how it affects you, contact your local law enforcement.
If you were not aware of these laws, or are not aware of the current laws, and were in a car accident that resulted in an injury, I may be able to help you. I am a personal injury attorney who has handled many car accident cases. If you weren’t in compliance with Louisiana seatbelt laws, insurance companies may try to use that against you. Don’t let them. Contact me today.