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What Are The Requirements For Child And Adult Seatbelt Restraint In A Motor Vehicle In Michigan?

What are the requirements for child and adult seatbelt restraint in a motor vehicle in michigan

Parents certainly have their complaints about installing and using children’s car seats in their motor vehicles. They are expensive, they are bulky, they take up incredible amounts of space in the passenger cab, and they are very frustrating and time-consuming to put in and operate. However, the whole purpose of these contraptions is to protect the most vulnerable members of society from severe injury or death. Besides being necessary and practical, it is Michigan law that these restraints are used for children of a certain age.

MCL 257.710d requires that “each driver transporting a child less than 4 years of age in a motor vehicle shall properly secure that child in a child restraint system that meets the standards prescribed in 49 CFR §571.213 (federal regulations regarding child restraint systems)”.

  • A child less than 4 years of age in a motor vehicle shall position the child in the child restraint system in the rear seat of the vehicle, if the vehicle is equipped with a rear seat. “If all available rear seats are occupied by children less than 4 years of age, then a child less than 4 years of age may be positioned in the child restraint system in the front seat. A child in a rear-facing child restraint system may be placed in the front seat only if the front passenger air bag is deactivated.” MCL 257.710d(2).
  • This law regarding transporting a child under 4 years of age in a motor vehicle “does not apply if the motor vehicle being driven is a bus, school bus, taxicab, moped, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle not required to be equipped with safety belts under federal law or regulations.” MCL 257.710d(3).
  • A violation of this provision is a civil infraction punishable by a fine. However, this is a non-abstract offense that is not reportable to the Michigan Secretary of State and does not result in points on the driver’s Michigan operator license.

MCL 257.710e(3)(b) requires that “[a] child who is 4 years of age or older but less than 8 years of age AND who is less than 4 feet 9 inches in height shall be properly secured in a child restraint system in accordance with the child restraint manufacturer’s and vehicle manufacturer’s instructions and the standards prescribed in 49 CFR §571.213 (federal regulations regarding child restraint systems)”.

  • If the child is not BOTH less than 8 years of age AND less than 4 feet 9 inches in height, then the child between 4 years of age and older but less than 16 years old need only be secured in a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt and seated as required by the general Michigan seatbelt law.
  • “If the motor vehicle is transporting more children than there are safety belts available for use, [and] all safety belts available in the motor vehicle are being utilized in compliance with this section, and the operator and all front seat passengers comply with [the proper restraint of child under 4 years old and children under 8 years old who are also under 4 feet 9 inches in height], then the operator of a motor vehicle transporting a child 8 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age for which there is not an available safety belt is in compliance with this [law] IF that child is seated in other than the front seat of the motor vehicle (unless it is a pickup truck without an extended cab or jump seats)”. MCL 257.710e(5).
  • A violation of this provision is a civil infraction punishable by a fine. However, this offense does not result in points on the driver’s Michigan operator license.

MCL 257.710e(3) requires, for all other persons not under 16 years of age, “each operator and front seat passenger of a motor vehicle operated on a street or highway in this state shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt.”

  • “If there are more passengers than safety belts available for use, and all safety belts in the motor vehicle are being utilized in compliance with this section, the operator of the motor vehicle is in compliance with this section.” MCL 257.710e(4).
  • This law does not apply to an operator or passenger of a motor vehicle manufactured before 1965, a bus, a motorcycle, a moped, a motor vehicle if the operator or passenger possesses a written verification from a physician that the operator or passenger is unable to wear a safety belt for physical or medical reasons, a motor vehicle that is not required to be equipped with safety belts under federal law, a commercial or United States Postal Service vehicle that makes frequent stops for the purpose of pickup or delivery of goods or services, or motor vehicle operated by a rural carrier of the United States Postal Service while serving his or her rural postal route. MCL 257.710e(1).
  • This law does not apply to a passenger of a school bus. MCL 257.710e(2).
  • A violation of this provision is a civil infraction punishable by a fine. However, this offense does not result in points on the driver’s Michigan operator license.

In the event of a collision, the failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section may be considered evidence of negligence and may reduce the recovery for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle. MCL 257.710e(8). However, that negligence shall not reduce the recovery for damages by more than 5%.

It is not the objective of these laws to frustrate drivers or raise revenue through fines but rather to save lives. “It is the intent of the legislature that the enforcement of this section be conducted in a manner calculated to save lives and not in a manner that results in the harassment of the citizens of this state.” MCL 257.710e(13). “A law enforcement agency shall conduct an investigation for all reports of police harassment that result from the enforcement of [these laws].” MCL 257.710e(10). In sum, police officers should use their powers to carry out the laws with restraint.

While your local Monroe County lawyers are always willing to defend against any and all alleged traffic violations, we can’t help but stress that the common sense of buckling up yourself and your children will save lives and protect those that you treasure the most. If you have any questions about Michigan’s child restraint laws, seatbelt laws or other aspect of the Michigan Vehicle Code, do not hesitate to contact the experienced traffic attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC.

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