Does the Driver Get a Ticket for a Passenger Not Wearing a Seatbelt?
Have you ever worried about getting a seatbelt ticket because your friend or family member refused to buckle up? In some states, sitting in the front seats without a seatbelt is a moving violation, but who faces penalties—such as hefty seatbelt ticket costs—if an officer pulls you over? Does the driver get a ticket for a passenger not wearing a seatbelt? DoNotPay answers this and many more questions!
In most states, the driver is considered responsible for ensuring everyone who has to—according to local laws—is wearing a seatbelt. That means that not only will the passenger get a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt, but the driver might get one too. For example, drivers in the following states are responsible and will receive a citation for all passengers without a seatbelt, regardless of age:
In Alabama, a driver can get a ticket for all passengers not wearing seatbelts except for adults who possess their own driver’s licenses. Laws in other states mandate that vehicle operators are responsible for minors and children.
The law in most states considers youth over 16 years of age capable of making their own decisions—including whether they want to wear a seatbelt or not. If the vehicle is pulled over with a minor not wearing a seatbelt, both the minor and the vehicle operator receive a citation—but this is not the case in all states.
Drivers are considered responsible for all passengers up to 18 years of age in the following states:
- Illinois (The driver is responsible for front-seat passengers of any age. If the driver is a minor, they can receive a citation for passengers in the back who have less than 19 years)
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
There are some exceptions, though. For example, when a minor violates seatbelt laws in Colorado, their parents or guardians receive the citation. In Michigan, drivers can get cited for front-seat passengers without a seatbelt and unbuckled children between eight and 15 years old in the back seat.
According to New Hampshire laws—which don’t impose seatbelt restrictions on adult drivers and passengers—adult vehicle operators are responsible for all occupants who are less than 18 years old.
The driver is responsible and always cited for a child without a seatbelt or proper restraint in the following states:
|State||Age of the Child|
|Washington State||15 and under|
|New York State|
|Illinois||Under 16 (if the driver is an adult)|
|Tennessee||16 and under|
Some of the states that don’t fit into any of the age limits that are mentioned above are:
- Indiana—a driver can get a citation for children who are not buckled with the appropriate equipment required by law. Drivers can also get tickets for passengers who are older than 16
- South Carolina—drivers are responsible for children who are 17 and under
- Nevada—a vehicle operator can get a ticket for children with inappropriate restraints
- Ohio—drivers can get a ticket for minors who:
- Are 16 years or older and are sitting in the front seat
- Are 8–15 years of age, regardless of the seat they’re sitting in
- Oregon—the vehicle operator is responsible for all children who are 16 years of age or older, as long as they’re driving on a highway
- Kentucky—the vehicle operator is responsible for all adults in the front seat and children in the back of the vehicle
When a police officer pulls over a vehicle with an unbuckled passenger, the driver of that vehicle will most likely:
- Get a seatbelt ticket—one or for each unbuckled passenger, depending on local laws
- Get one or more demerit points, depending on:
- The state the violation occurred in
- The age of the passenger without the seatbelt
- Go to court if they don’t pay the seatbelt ticket
- Face higher insurance rates if the driver has an extensive violation record and is deemed a high-risk driver
If you get a ticket for a passenger without a seatbelt, you can defend yourself and potentially get it dismissed by:
- Creating reasonable doubt—convincing the judge that the officer didn’t see the seatbelt that was in place
- Showing due diligence—proving that the passenger:
- Had a valid reason to take off the seatbelt
- Unbuckled their seatbelt without you noticing
- Have a medical condition that exempts them from being restrained in a vehicle
Building your defense can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you’ve never done it before. Sign up to get a seatbelt ticket appeal letter in minutes with DoNotPay!
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All you need to do is:
- Access DoNotPay
- Search for the Seatbelt Ticket feature
- Tell us who got the ticket and the argument you want to use in your defense
- Upload a photo of your seatbelt ticket
After you complete all steps, your appeal letter will be ready and on its way to the authorities.
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