Everything About the D.C. Seatbelt Law
Washington, D.C. takes its road safety seriously. As of 1997, it has been employing strict seatbelt regulations to lower the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by car crashes.
With the help of campaigns such as Click It or Tick It and Video Car Seat Assistance Program, it reached a safety belt usage rate of 95.4% in 2019—one of the best in the U.S. District of Columbia has managed to keep this percentage over 90% for the last five years.
What is this famously strong D.C. seatbelt law? Find out in our comprehensive guide. DoNotPay brings you the scoop on:
- Who needs to buckle up in D.C.
- How much the ticket costs
- What the ticket will do to your driving record and car insurance
- How to overturn a wrongly issued ticket
The D.C. seatbelt law states that the driver and all passengers in the vehicle must have their seatbelts on. The safety belt needs to be used properly, or you can get a ticket.
Drivers are responsible for ensuring that the passengers comply with the law. If any of the occupants don’t buckle up, the officers can pull the car over solely because of that. They have the right to do so since D.C. is one of the states with primary seatbelt law enforcement.
People in the following situations can be excluded from wearing a seatbelt:
- Occupants with verification from a physician about a medical condition that prevents them from using a safety belt
- Drivers and passengers in a vehicle manufactured before 1966
- Passengers who don’t have an available seatbelt to put on as the existing ones are occupied by other people
- Taxi drivers with a taxicab license who engage in transporting passengers between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Children must be in a car seat or use a seatbelt at all times during the ride for their safety. The law delegates that children under eight years of age must be restrained with a proper safety system. Follow these guidelines for children’s seatbelt and car seat use:
|Age||Weight||Must Be Restrained With|
|Under one||Up to 20 pounds||Rear-facing car seat|
|Over two||Over 20 pounds||Front-facing car seat|
|Under four||Up to 40 pounds||Five-point harness seat|
|Under eight||Over 40 pounds||Booster seat|
|Over eight||About 80 pounds||Regular seatbelt|
If the police catch you or a passenger without a safety belt, you’ll need to pay the cost for breaking the law—which is $50 per offense.
If you fail to secure children, you’ll face heftier fines. When you get the ticket, you can choose to:
- Pay a $75 fine
- Pay a $25 fee and take a Child Safety Restraint Class
If you repeat the child seatbelt law violation, the cost will increase in this order:
- The second offense comes with a $75 fine and a $25 fee
- The third offense comes with a $125 fine
- Subsequent offenses bring a $150 ticket
The District of Columbia uses a point system as a warning method for reckless drivers. Once you reach 10–11 demerit points, they’ll suspend your license, and 12 points lead to revoking your driving privileges.
Not using a seatbelt is a moving violation in D.C., and you’ll get three points if you don’t comply with the seatbelt law. Once your driving record shows a sign of traffic offense, your insurance rates will go up.
When you are guilty of breaking the seatbelt law, it might be easier to pay the fine and move on. Otherwise, not paying what you owe to the authorities will result in a higher fine. They’ll also assess your points, and your driving license can be suspended or revoked.
In case you believe that you didn’t deserve the citation, there’s an option—overturn it in court. You can do that by:
- Showing a reasonable doubt—A credible explanation why the police officer thought that you weren’t buckled up when you were
- Presenting a due diligence defense—A valid reason why you were unbelted—explain that you were driving in reverse, having an emergency, or similar
Having a good argument may not be enough if you don’t present it in the right way. If you aren’t sure how to do that, subscribe to DoNotPay! You can get a tailor-made convincing appeal in a couple of minutes!
DoNotPay offers a fast, convenient, and affordable alternative to costly lawyers. We can draft and mail your ticket appeal letter, and you’ll only need to provide us with information about the ticket.
Here’s what you should do:
- Go to the DoNotPay website and log in to your account
- Access the Seatbelt Ticket tool
- Add a photo of the ticket
- Answer a few simple questions about the event
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