California, like each individual state, has its own set of laws and regulations when it comes to seat belts. Below I will describe some of the key points from the California seat belt law for adults and children.
First and foremost, in the Golden State, the seat belt law is considered a primary law. A primary seat belt law means that police officers are allowed to pull over a car and fine the driver for no other reason than seat belts not being used at that time. That stands in contrast to other states that have a secondary seat belt law—there, officers need another reason to pull the car over, aside from just seeing seat belts unbuckled.
In California, all passengers of a vehicle, especially the driver, must wear seat belts. For those aged 16 or over, the lower strap of the seat belt must cover the hips or upper thighs and the shoulder strap must cross over the front of the chest. Understandably, the seat belt should never be tucked behind the arm or buckled behind the back.
When it comes to young passengers, there are additional rules. A car seat or booster seat should be used at all times by any children under the age of 8 or less than 4’9″ in height. Any children under the age of 2 must be placed in a federally approved and age-specific car seat or booster seat as well.
Ultimately, each person should buckle himself or herself when in a vehicle, but if they fail to do so or are too young, the driver is held responsible. The fines for failing to wear a seat belt or driving passengers who are not strapped in vary quite a bit. Typically, you can expect a $20 fine, but this can escalate to $50 for each time after that. In some instances, the seat belt violation fee can begin anywhere between $162 and $465—especially if a child is not properly restrained. Unfortunately, court fees can up that price even farther. If you fail to pay the fees, you will then face losing your driver’s license.
Of course, to buckle into your seat belt, you need to have a properly functioning seat belt to begin with. If you are having problems with your seat belt or it is broken, send it in to the company Safety Restore for repair. You’ll be guaranteed quality repairs at an affordable price point.