§295. Child passenger restraint system
A. Except as provided in Subsections C, D, and E of this Section, every driver in this state who transports a child or children under the age of thirteen years in a motor vehicle which is equipped with safety belts shall have the child properly secured as follows:
(1) A child younger than six years of age or weighing sixty pounds or less shall be restrained in a child restraint system as provided for in this Subsection that complies with standards of the United States Department of Transportation and is secured in the vehicle in accordance with the instructions of the manufacturer of the child restraint system and the passenger seating position is equipped with a safety belt system that allows sufficient space for installation. The child restraint system required for a child younger than six years of age or weighing sixty pounds or less is, in descending order of protectiveness, as follows:
(a) A child who is younger than one year of age or weighs less than twenty pounds shall be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat.
(b) A child who is at least one year of age but younger than four years of age or who weighs at least twenty pounds but less than forty pounds shall be restrained in a forward-facing child safety seat.
(c) A child who is at least four years of age but younger than six years of age or1 who weighs at least forty pounds but not more than sixty pounds shall be restrained in a child booster seat. The requirements of this Subparagraph shall not apply in any seating position where there is only a lap belt available and the child weighs more than forty pounds.
(2) A child who is at least six years of age or weighs more than sixty pounds shall be restrained with the motor vehicle's safety belt adjusted and fastened around the child's body or in an appropriately fitting child booster seat in accordance with the instructions of the manufacturer of the safety belt or child booster seat.
(3) A child who because of age or weight can be placed in more than one category shall be placed in the more protective category.
B.(1) The term "motor vehicle" as used in this Section shall not mean the following: bicycle; farm tractor; motorcycle or motor-driven cycle; truck of manufacturer's rating carrying capacity of over two thousand pounds; ambulance or other emergency vehicle; school bus as defined in R.S. 32:1(62)(a) and (b); church bus, private bus, or recreational vehicle which has a passenger capacity of over ten persons; or commercial truck, van, or taxi.
(2) The term "child restraint system" as used in this Section shall mean a lap belt, a shoulder harness, or an age- or size-appropriate child safety seat as required by this Section.
(3) The term "child booster seat" as used in this Section means a child passenger restraint system that meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. 571.213 and is designed to elevate a child to properly sit in a federally approved safety belt system.
C. When the vehicle is equipped with a passenger side air bag supplemental restraint system and the air bag system is activated, the driver of a vehicle transporting a child who is younger than six years of age or weighs less than sixty pounds shall transport the child in the rear seat positions in the vehicle, if rear seats are available.
D. When the number of children under the age of thirteen in the motor vehicle exceeds the number of age- or size-appropriate passenger restraint systems and seat belts available in the motor vehicle, the unrestrained children shall be seated in a rear seat, if rear seats are available.
E. The provisions of this Section shall not apply when one of the following conditions exists:
(1) The motor vehicle is being used as an ambulance or other emergency vehicle.
(2) An emergency exists which threatens the life of any person operating a motor vehicle to whom this Section otherwise would apply or the life of any child who otherwise would be required to be restrained under this Section.
(3) Any child who would otherwise be required to be restrained under this Section who is physically unable because of medical reasons to use a child passenger safety system or safety belt.
F. In no event shall failure to wear a child passenger safety seat system be considered as comparative negligence, nor shall such failure be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action with regard to negligence, nor shall such failure be considered a moving violation.
G. Any operator of a motor vehicle stopped for a violation of this Section and against whom enforcement action has been taken shall not be guilty of a subsequent violation of this Section until after twenty-four hours have elapsed from the date and time of the violation as indicated on the traffic ticket.
H. A violation of this Section involving failure to secure a child in any type of child restraint system shall be a primary offense. However, failure to secure a child in the age- or size-appropriate restraint, as specified by Subsection A of this Section, shall be a secondary offense and a driver may be cited only if stopped for a moving violation.
I.(1) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary and except as provided by Paragraph (2) of this Subsection, any person who violates this Section shall upon conviction be fined one hundred dollars for a first offense, not less than two hundred fifty dollars and not more than five hundred dollars for a second offense, and five hundred dollars plus all costs of court for a third or subsequent offense.
(2) Any person who violates this Section but whose violation is limited to failure to utilize an age- or size-appropriate child restraint system to secure an otherwise restrained child shall not be fined more than one hundred dollars including fees and court costs.
J. The Department of Public Safety and Corrections shall initiate an educational program designed to encourage compliance with the child passenger restraint system requirements of this Section.
Acts 1984, No. 156, §1; Acts 1997, No. 1037, §1, eff. July 1, 1997; Acts 2003, No. 1238, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2004; Acts 2008, No. 300, §1, eff. June 1, 2009; Acts 2009, No. 224, §1, eff. June 1, 2009.
1As appears in enrolled bill ("or" should be "and")