North Dakota Passes Child Passenger Laws

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Recently, numerous state laws were passed by in the 2017 session of the North Dakota legislature. One of the laws involves changes to North Dakota’s existing child passenger safety law. The new law extends the time during which a child is required to ride in a restraint seat by one year. Children younger than 8 years are now required to ride in a booster or car seat unless the children are four feet nine inches or taller. Motor vehicle operators who violate these rules are at risk of being fined and losing a point on their license. North Dakota Department of Health officials also recommends that all children younger than 13 years ride in the back seat. Additionally, children should ride rear-facing until at least 2 years of age. This article will examine North Dakota’s child passenger law, the new law, and the motivation for these regulations.

Reasoning for the Law

The coordinator for Safe Kids Grand Forks has expressed the perspective that children are often not big enough for a seat belt to fit properly until they are somewhere between ages 8 and 12. The coordinator also suggested that the law was introduced because North Dakota’s law should reflect the best safety practices for children. Parents look to the written code to determine what is safe for driving, which was not reflected in the previous law, by which children older than 7 were not required to use booster seats.

North Dakota’s New Law

The state of North Dakota has extended the restraint requirement by a year, which means that now all children younger than 8 years old are required to ride in a car seat or booster unless the child is taller than 4 feet 9 inches, or 22.86 centimeters. Motor vehicle operators who are found in violation of this law can be fined $25 and will have a point placed in their license. The accumulation of points can increase a person’s motor vehicle insurance cost and can even result in license suspension. The new law also drops former weight guidelines used to determine how a child should ride in a car because the weight is not viewed by safety groups as a good indicator of fit even though height restrictions remain in place.

Contact a Knowledgeable North Dakota Attorney

Compliance with child seat belt laws can be complicated. If you have questions about these laws, do not hesitate to contact an attorney at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss online or by calling 701-2235-8000 or 877-235-8002.