California’s Seat Belt Laws
Every driver has seen a sign telling them and their passengers to buckle their seat belts. Most people don’t need to be reminded to buckle up. They know that wearing their seat belt is the best way to stay safe in the event of an accident. However, there are still some people out there who need to be reminded of that fact.
In an effort to try to keep everyone safe, every state in the union has created laws against driving without a seat belt. Here in California, Vehicle Code (VC) 27315 is the state’s seat belt law. It lists the times when a person needs to wear a seat belt and what kind of consequences a person would face for not wearing the belt.
California Vehicle Code 27315
VC 27315 is more commonly referred to as the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This act was created in an effort to keep motorists safe while driving across California. The act basically states that no person over the age of 16 can ride or drive in a moving vehicle without being properly restrained.
Being properly restrained is defined as having the lower lap portion strapped over the stomach and the upper shoulder portion of the belt being strapped across the front of the chest. Basically, for any vehicle from the year 1996 or newer, passengers have to wear the full seat belt. A person cannot place the shoulder portion of the seat belt behind their back.
Another factor in this law is that all seat belts need to be kept in proper, working order.
Consequences of Not Buckling Up
Breaking VC 27315 is an infraction level offense. This means it does not come with criminal charges or jail time. A person simply faces a small fine for not wearing their seat belt while riding in a moving vehicle.
When a person doesn’t wear their seat belt, they will be the ones to get a ticket, not the driver of the vehicle. Unless the un-belted person is a minor, in which case the driver is responsible for the child’s safety.
For a first time offense, a person faces a $20 base fine.
For any subsequent offenses, a person faces a $50 base fine.
In some instances, a person may be able to avoid a fine if they can take a traffic school course, provided the course teaches about seat belt safety.
Despite the nature of breaking this law, a person will not receive any points on their driver’s license. This helps a person avoid collecting too many points on their license and the increased insurance rates that would come with them.
It is important to remember that all of these consequences are on top of the fact that if a person doesn’t wear a seat belt and winds up in an accident, they are much more likely to receive serious injuries. Seat belts save lives. By not wearing one, a person is risking their own life.
Kids and Seat Belts
It is pretty easy to see how seat belts aren’t exactly designed for children. That is why there are car seats built to keep kids safe at all ages. According to California law:
- Kids under the age of 2 should be restrained in rear-facing car seats unless the child weighs more than 40 pounds, or is taller than 40 inches.
- Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat in the back seat.
- Children 8 and older, or taller than 4 feet, 9 inches, should be in a booster seat, or at least secured by a seat belt.
- Children 16 and older must wear a seat belt.
Failing to follow these regulations can result in the parent receiving fines, and a point on their driver’s license.
A first time offense comes with a base fine of $100.
Subsequent offenses come with a base fine of $250.
Don’t Ignore the Ticket
With such a small ticket price, some people may feel like ignoring the ticket and its court date. However, that is a terrible idea. By ignoring a ticket and failing to appear in court, a person violates VC 40508. Unlike VC 27315, breaking VC 40508 comes with actual criminal charges.
When a person breaks this law, they can face:
- Up to 6 months in jail.
- A max fine of $1,000.
Just Wear the Seat Belt
At the end of the day, it is best that everyone just buckle up when they get in a vehicle. Doing so can keep them safe in the event of an accident. Plus, getting caught not wearing a seat belt can earn a person a nice fine, and they will have to appear in court. It is so much easier to just wear the seat belt.
What do you think of California’s take on seat belt laws? Is it too much, or not enough? Should driving without a seat belt earn a person a point on their driver’s license? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.