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Texas Occupant Restraint Laws: Need-to-know seatbelt laws in Texas - Child passenger safety seats

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Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated Transportation Code

Texas Seatbelt Laws
Chapter 545, Transportation Code

(as amended by the 81st Leg. Regular Session, effective September 1, 2009)

Sec. 545.412. Child Passenger Safety Seat Systems; Offense.

DPS enforcement interpretation (click for more information)

The law becomes effective on Sept. 1, 2009, but tickets for this offense cannot be issued until June 1, 2010. Police officers are allowed to issue a warning before that date. However, the old law remains in effect until then and requires children younger than 5 and less than 36 inches in height be in a child safety seat---and tickets can still be issued for this violation.

TRC § 545.412. CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY SEAT SYSTEMS; OFFENSE. (a) A person commits an offense if the person operates a passenger vehicle, transports a child who is younger than eight [five] years of age, unless the child is taller than four feet, nine inches [and less than 36 inches in height], and does not keep the child secured during the operation of the vehicle in a child passenger safety seat system according to the instructions of the manufacturer of the safety seat system.

(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not [less than $100 or] more than $25 for the first offense and not more than $250 for a sec­ond or subsequent offense [$200].

(b-1) In addition to all other fees and court costs, a per­son shall pay 15 cents as a court cost on conviction of an offense under this section.  Court costs due under this section shall be collected in the same manner as other fees, fines, or costs are collected in the case.  The clerk at least monthly shall send the court costs collected under this section to the comptroller for deposit in a separate ac­count in the general revenue fund that may be appropri­ated only to the Texas Department of Transportation and used to purchase child passenger safety seat systems and distribute them to low-income families.

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person was operating the vehicle in an emergency or for a law enforcement purpose.

(d) Repealed by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 204, Sec. 8.01

(e) This section does not apply to a person:

(1) operating a vehicle transporting passengers for hire, excluding [including] third-party transport service providers when transporting clients pursuant to a contract to provide non-emergency Medicaid transportation; or

(2) transporting a child in a vehicle in which all seat­ing positions equipped with child passenger safety seat systems or safety belts are occupied.

(f) In this section:

(1) "Child passenger safety seat system" means an infant or child passenger restraint system that meets the federal standards for crash-tested restraint systems as set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

(2) "Passenger vehicle" means a passenger car, light truck, sport utility vehicle, passenger van designed to transport 15 or fewer passengers, including the driver, truck, or truck tractor.

(3) "Safety belt" means a lap belt and any shoulder straps included as original equipment on or added to a vehicle.

(4) "Secured," in connection with use of a safety belt, means using the lap belt and any shoulder straps accord­ing to the instructions of:

(A) the manufacturer of the vehicle, if the safety belt is original equipment; or

(B) the manufacturer of the safety belt, if the safety belt has been added to the vehicle.

(g) A judge, acting under Article 45.0511, Code of Crim­inal Procedure, who elects to defer further proceedings and to place a defendant accused of a violation of this section on probation under that article, in lieu of requiring the defendant to complete a driving safety course approved by the Texas Education Agency, shall require the defendant to attend and present proof that the defendant has successfully completed a specialized driving safety course approved by the Texas Education Agency under the Texas Driver and Traffic Safety Education Act (Article 4413(29c), Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes) that includes four hours of instruction that encourages the use of child passenger safety seat systems and the wearing of seat belts and emphasizes:

(1) the effectiveness of child passenger safety seat systems and seat belts in reducing the harm to children being transported in motor vehicles; and

(2) the requirements of this section and the penalty for noncompliance.

(h) Notwithstanding Section 542.402(a), a municipality or county, at the end of the municipality's or county's fiscal year, shall send to the comptroller an amount equal to 50 percent of the fines collected by the municipality or the county for violations of this section. The comptroller shall deposit the amount received to the credit of the tertiary care fund for use by trauma centers.

Sec. 545.4121. DEFENSE; POSSESSION OF CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY SEAT SYSTEM.

(a) This section applies to an offense committed under Section545.412.

(b) It is a defense to prosecution of an offense to which this section applies that the defendant provides to the court evidence satisfactory to the court that the defendant possesses an appropriate child passenger safety seat system for each child required to be secured in a child passenger safety seat system under Section 545.412(a).