Because of the serious risk of injury that children face when they are involved in a car accident, strict guidelines apply to the use of child safety seats. Car seat laws in Indiana are designed to keep children in approved, size-appropriate seats. These could reduce the potential injuries that follow a car crash.
These car seat laws are detailed, covering the appropriate options for children based on their age and weight. There are regulations for personal vehicles and exceptions that apply to taxi drivers and other forms of public transportation. Consequences can come with the failure to comply with car seat laws.
Understanding Car Seat Requirements in Indiana
Different car seat standards exist for different ages and weights. Some children are required to use rear-facing car seats, while others may be placed in front-facing seats. Older children eventually have the option to ride front-facing while relying on seat belts for safety.
Rear-Facing Car Seat Requirements
Infants and small children are required by law to use rear-facing car seats. This requirement applies to any child under the age of 12 months or below 20 pounds in weight.
Front-Facing Car-Seat Requirements
Parents may move their children to front-facing car seats over time. Front-facing child safety seats are an option once a child reaches 12 months of age and is over 20 pounds in weight. These front-facing seats should have a harness and should have approval from the federal government. The recommendation is for children to remain in front-facing car seats until they weigh at least 40 pounds.
The next step up following a front-facing car seat is a booster seat. State law requires children to be in appropriate restraint systems until they reach eight years of age. This means that children under the age of eight and over 30 pounds may use a booster seat. The state recommends keeping a child in a front-facing seat until a child weighs 40 pounds, however.
When Children May Ride in the Front Seat
Once a child reaches the age of eight and has met the weight requirements, they are allowed to use a seatbelt alone instead of a booster seat. That said, it is recommended for children to ride in the back seat of the car until they reach the age of 13. This recommendation is not a requirement under state law.
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Penalties for Violating Child Safety Seat Laws
Any violation of the state’s child safety seat laws could result in consequences. This is true for anyone that does not have a specific exemption for seat belt laws. According to state law, any person who operates a motor vehicle with a child under the age of eight that is not property restrained faces a Class D infraction.
A Class D infraction is the lowest level of traffic offense under state law. It is not a criminal offense, meaning that it does not carry the potential for incarceration. The maximum fine for a Class D infraction is $25.
Car Seat Laws and Taxi Cabs
Some jurisdictions have specific laws when it comes to minor children riding in taxi cabs. There are no such laws on the books in Indiana. That means the state does not provide specific guidance or regulation on whether parents are required to supply car seats in taxis.
When it comes to the taxicab drivers, Indiana Code Section 9-19-11-1 specifically exempts them from the penalties that can come with the violation of car seat standards.
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Child Safety Seat Inspection Stations
Parents who have questions or concerns about their child’s safety seat do not have to wonder alone if the seats are being used properly. There are several no-cost car seat inspections available at many locations.
The Automotive Safety Program at the Indiana University School of Medicine provides a list of child safety seat inspection sites. You can search this list by county to find the closest site near you.
Despite safe driving practices, compliance with car seat laws in Indiana, and up-to-date equipment, child injuries can still occur in a motor vehicle accident. When these accidents happen, resulting injuries could lead to financial, physical, and emotional hardships for a child.
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Contact an Attorney’s Team Following an Accident
The attorneys of the Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. understand the stress and worry that can follow a child’s injury. If your child was hurt due to another driver’s negligence, we could help you pursue legal action to hold the responsible party accountable.
Our car accident lawyers could focus on building the strongest injury case possible while you tend to the care of your child. Call (317) 636-7777 right away for a free consultation. Child injuries and accidents are compensable, and you could secure justice for your family.