If you operate a motor vehicle with a child in the car, it is your legal responsibility to ensure that the child is properly secured in the correct child safety seat or harness system under Colorado’s car seat laws. Failing to fulfill this responsibility can result in a ticket and fine for the driver of the vehicle. It could also result in court fees and insurance premium increases for repeat offenders.
The Dangers of Driving Without a Car Seat
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of child injury and death in the United States. In 2020, more than 63,000 children under the age of 12 were injured and 607 were killed in traffic accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the best ways to protect a child during a car accident is by ensuring that he or she is properly buckled up every time.
Restraint use can keep a small child in his or her seat during a car accident, preventing the child from being flung around inside the vehicle or ejected from the car. A car seat, booster seat or seat belt can also keep a child’s body in the optimal position to prevent serious injuries, such as head, brain and neck injuries. Statistics show that 40 percent of children ages 8 to 12 who were killed in car accidents in 2020 were not buckled up. Our team of Aurora car accident lawyers know the dangers and high risk of fatal accidents occurring when children ride without car seats or seat belts.
What Is Colorado’s Car Seat Requirement?
All 50 states address child motor vehicle safety by enforcing car seat laws and requirements. A car seat is a device that is specifically designed to protect a small child in the event of a car crash. States also require booster seats for certain age ranges and heights. Booster seats lift a small child to the correct height to properly use a shoulder and lap belt.
In Colorado, the following car seat requirements must be obeyed based on the age and size of the child:
- Rear-facing car seat: any child less than one year old and weighing less than 20 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system in the back seat of a passenger vehicle.
- Rear-facing or forward-facing car seat: any child that is one to four years old and weighing 20 to 40 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing or forward-facing child restraint system.
- Booster seat: all children up to the age of eight years old must be properly secured in the correct child restraint system, such as a booster seat.
- Seat belt: from ages 8 to 15, all children in Colorado are required to remain properly restrained in a child restraint system or using a seat belt.
Failing to restrain a child under the age of eight in the appropriate child restraint system is against the law in Colorado. It is also an example of negligence by the parent or legal guardian, as it increases the odds of child injury in an accident. The only exceptions are if the child is being transported as part of a life-threatening emergency, is being transported in a commercial vehicle that is operated by a child care center or is being transported in a vehicle operated by a common carrier.
Penalties for Breaking Colorado’s Car Seat Laws
In Colorado, the car seat law is a primary enforcement action. This means that a motor vehicle driver does not have to be doing anything else wrong or breaking any other laws to be stopped and ticketed for an unsecured child passenger. Violating Colorado’s car seat law is a class B traffic infraction, subject to a $65 fine plus a $6 surcharge per offense. Repeat offenders could face additional penalties, such as having to go to court or pay more for automobile insurance. Aside from the legal ramifications, a child could suffer serious or fatal injuries in a car accident if not properly restrained. Getting assistance from an Aurora personal injury attorney can help provide experienced legal representation if you have suffered a car accident in Colorado.