Massachusetts Child Seatbelt Law From A to Z
If you’re visiting or live in the Old Bay State, you should get to know the Massachusetts child seatbelt law to ensure the safety of your little ones. This article will take you through all the details of this law and explain:
- How much a child seatbelt ticket costs
- Whether you can get points for violating it
- How to get the citation dismissed
The Massachusetts seatbelt law states that all children must be properly restrained in a federally approved child safety device until they are older than eight and taller than 57 inches.
You can find more details about the child seatbelt law in the table below:
|Infants||Parents or legal guardians must use rear-facing convertible car seats for infants—for the first 12 months at least—in the back of the vehicle|
|One year and older||Children who are older than 12 months can be put in a forward-facing car seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests, though, that children younger than three should be placed in rear-facing seats until their weight and height don’t exceed the manufacturer’s limit|
|Four years||Once your child is four and weighs more than 40 pounds, you can position them in a booster seat|
|Eight years||All children who are eight or younger must be restrained in booster seats. After they outgrow the booster seat, children must be protected by a safety belt|
|13 years and younger||Children who are 13 or younger mustn’t ride in the front seat|
Massachusetts is a secondary enforcement state which means that a police officer may not pull you over for only not wearing a seatbelt or failing to restrain your children in a car seat. They need to stop you for a different offense, such as speeding, and then they can issue a seatbelt ticket in addition to the primary violation.
The Massachusetts child seatbelt law doesn’t apply to passengers of vehicles that don’t have seatbelts installed, such as:
- School buses
- Motor vehicles manufactured before July 1966
Another exception refers to children who have a medical condition or physical disability that prevents them from being restrained in a child safety device. If that is the case, you must have a doctor’s note that confirms the condition.
There are many consequences of failing to restrain your child in a vehicle, one of which is a seatbelt ticket. For violating a child seatbelt law, you, as the driver, will have to pay a $25 fine for any passenger who is 16 or younger.
If you don’t pay your ticket within 30 days from the issuing date, you might face a license suspension.
Failing to secure your children in a proper child safety device isn’t considered a moving violation in Massachusetts. This means that you won’t get any demerit points on your license, and the ticket probably won’t affect your insurance rates.
If you get a ticket for failing to restrain your child and end up in court, using one of these arguments might get you out of paying it:
- Reasonable doubt—Using reasonable doubt as your argument implies that the police officer made a mistake, and your child was properly restrained. You should use this argument only if the statement above is true
- Due diligence—By choosing this argument, you claim that you had a valid reason for not restraining your kid. Some of the top excuses you can use are:
- You weren’t aware that your child unbuckled the seatbelt
- Your child has a condition that prevents them from being restrained in a car seat
- You were having an emergency
You should use due diligence defense if you did break the law but had a good reason for it.
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