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Texas Occupant Restraint Laws: Need-to-know seatbelt laws in Texas - Safety Belts; Offense

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Sec. 545.413. Safety Belts; Offense.

  1. A person commits an offense if:
    1. the person:
      1. is at least 15 years of age;
      2. is riding in [the front seat of] a passenger vehi­cle while the vehicle is being operated;
      3. is occupying a seat that is equipped with a safety belt; and
      4. is not secured by a safety belt; or
    2. as the operator of a school bus equipped with a safety belt for the operator's seat, the person is not se­cured by the safety belt.
  2. A person commits an offense if the person:
    1. operates a passenger vehicle that is equipped with safety belts; and
    2. allows a child who is younger than 17 years of age and who is not required to be secured in a child pas­senger safety seat system under Section 545.412(a) to ride in the vehicle without requiring the child to be secured by a safety belt, provided the child is occupying a seat that is equipped with a safety belt.
    (b-1) A person commits an offense if the person allows a child who is younger than 17 years of age and who is not required to be secured in a child passenger safety seat system under Section 545.412(a) to ride in a passen­ger van designed to transport 15 or fewer passengers, in­cluding the driver, without securing the child individually by a safety belt, if the child is occupying a seat that is equipped with a safety belt.
  3. A passenger vehicle or a seat in a passenger vehi­cle is considered to be equipped with a safety belt if the vehicle is required under Section 547.601 to be equipped with safety belts.
  4. An offense under Subsection (a) is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $50. An offense under Subsection (b) is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $200.
  5. It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:
    1. the person possesses a written statement from a licensed physician stating that for a medical reason the person should not wear a safety belt;
    2. the person presents to the court, not later than the 10th day after the date of the offense, a statement from a licensed physician stating that for a medical reason the person should not wear a safety belt;
    3. the person is employed by the United States Postal Service and performing a duty for that agency that requires the operator to service postal boxes from a vehi­cle or that requires frequent entry into and exit from a ve­hicle;
    4. the person is engaged in the actual delivery of newspapers from a vehicle or is performing newspaper delivery duties that require frequent entry into and exit from a vehicle;
    5. the person is employed by a public or private util­ity company and is engaged in the reading of meters or performing a similar duty for that company requiring the operator to frequently enter into and exit from a vehicle; or
    6. The person is operating a commercial vehicle reg­istered as a farm vehicle under the provisions of Section 502.163 that does not have a gross weight, registered weight, or gross weight rating of 48,000 pounds or more.
  6. The department shall develop and implement an ed­ucational program to encourage the wearing of safety belts and to emphasize:
    1. the effectiveness of safety belts and other re­straint devices in reducing the risk of harm to passengers in motor vehicles; and
    2. the requirements of this section and the penalty for noncompliance.
  7. Repealed by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 204, Sec. 8.01.
  8. In this section, "passenger vehicle," "safety belt," and "secured" have the meanings assigned by Section 545.412.
  9. 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 Sub­section (b) 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.
  10. 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 50percent of the fines collected by the municipality or the county for violations of Subsection (b) of this section. The comptroller shall deposit the amount received to the credit of the tertiary care fund for use by trauma centers.