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NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law Excerpts

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These excerpts are provided for information only and NOT as the basis for legal or judicial determinations.  ALWAYS verify them against the most recent available copy of the law.  The entire Vehicle and Traffic Law, sorted by section number, is available from the New York State Legislative Bill Drafting Commission. external link

If you do not understand the law, please read the Frequently Asked Questions on the Seat Belts & Air Bags or Child Passenger Safety for Parents pages.

A child must remain in an appropriate child restraint system until the age of eight (8)

Effective November 24, 2009 all children under the age of 8 (until the child's 8th birthday) must be restrained in an appropriate child restraint system while riding in a motor vehicle.

An appropriate child restraint system is one that meets the child's size and weight and the specifications of the manufacturer of such system. A child restraint system may be a child safety seat, harness, vest or a booster seat. The vehicle's safety belt alone is NOT a child restraint system.


Contents 

Article 33 Miscellaneous rules
Section 1229-c. Operation of vehicles with safety seats and safety belts.

§1229-c. Operation of vehicles with safety seats and safety belts.

1. No person shall operate a motor vehicle in this state unless: (a) all back seat passengers of such vehicle under the age of four are restrained in a specially designed seat which meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. 571.213 and which is either permanently affixed or is affixed to such vehicle by a safety belt, or in the event that the weight of such passenger under the age of four exceeds forty pounds, such passenger may be restrained (i) in an appropriate child restraint system as defined in subdivision four of this section used with combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts or (ii) by a lap safety belt in the event such vehicle is not equipped with combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts or all the combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts are being used to properly restrain other passengers who are under the age of sixteen;

(b) all back seat passengers of such vehicle who are age four or older but under age eight (i) are restrained in an appropriate child restraint system as defined in subdivision four of this section used with combination lap and shoulder harness belts or (ii) are restrained in a lap safety belt in the event such vehicle is not equipped with combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts or all the combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts are being used to properly restrain other passengers who are under the age of sixteen; or

(c) in the case of any other back seat passenger under the age of sixteen, he or she is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner.

2. No person shall operate a motor vehicle unless all front seat passengers (a) under the age of sixteen are restrained by a safety belt; or (b) if they are under the age of four, by a specially designed seat which is either permanently affixed or affixed to such vehicle by a safety belt as required by subdivision one of this section, or in the event that the weight of such passenger under the age of four exceeds forty pounds, such passenger may be restrained (i) in an appropriate child restraint system as defined in subdivision four of this section used with combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts or (ii) by a lap safety belt in the event such vehicle is not equipped with combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts or all the combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts are being used to properly restrain other passengers who are under the age of sixteen; or (c) if they are age four or older but under age seven, (i) are restrained in an appropriate child restraint system as defined in subdivision four of this section used with combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts or (ii) are restrained in a lap safety belt in the event such vehicle is not equipped with combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts or all the combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts are being used to properly restrain other passengers who are under the age of sixteen.

3. No person shall operate a motor vehicle unless such person is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner. No person sixteen years of age or over shall be a passenger in the front seat of a motor vehicle unless such person is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner.

* 3-a. Except as otherwise provided for passengers under the age of four, it shall be a violation of this section if a person is seated in a seating position equipped with both a lap safety belt and a shoulder harness belt and such person is not restrained by both such lap safety belt and shoulder harness belt.
* NB There are 2 sub 3-a's

* 3-a. No person holding a class DJ learner's permit or class DJ license issued pursuant to section five hundred two of this chapter, or a limited class DJ or MJ license issued pursuant to section five hundred three-a of this chapter, shall operate a motor vehicle in this state unless such person is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner, and all passengers under the age of four are restrained in a specially designed seat which meets the federal motor vehicle safety standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. 571.213 and which is either permanently affixed or is affixed to such vehicle by a safety belt and, in the case of any other passenger under the age of sixteen, he or she is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner. No person sixteen years of age or over shall be a passenger in a motor vehicle operated by a person holding a class DJ learner's permit, a class DJ license or a limited class DJ license unless such passenger is restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner.
* NB There are 2 sub 3-a's

4. For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings: (a) "motor vehicle" shall include all motor vehicles which are required by section three hundred eighty-three of this chapter or regulation or would be required if such motor vehicle were registered in New York state to be equipped by a safety belt but shall not include those vehicles which are used as school buses, as such term is defined in section one hundred forty-two of this chapter and those vehicles which are authorized emergency vehicles, as such term is defined in section one hundred one of this chapter; (b) "child restraint system" shall mean any device, used in conjunction with safety belts, designed for use in a motor vehicle to restrain, seat, or position children and which meets the applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. 571.213; and (c) "appropriate child restraint system" shall mean a child restraint system for which the occupant meets the occupant size and weight recommendations of the manufacturer of such system.

5. Any person who violates the provisions of subdivision three of this section shall be punished by a civil fine of up to fifty dollars. Any person who violates the provisions of subdivision one, two, eleven or thirteen of this section shall be punished by a civil fine of not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred dollars. In any prosecution or proceeding alleging a violation of paragraph (b) of subdivision one or paragraph (c) of subdivision two of this section, it shall be an affirmative defense that the passenger subject to the requirements of such paragraphs was restrained by a safety belt and measures more than four feet nine inches in height and/or weighs more than one hundred pounds.

6. The court shall waive any fine for which a person who violates the provisions of this section would be liable with respect to passengers under the age of seven if such person supplies the court with proof that, between the date on which he is charged with having violated this section and the appearance date for such violation, he purchased or rented a child restraint system which meets the requirements of subdivision one of this section. Provided, however, that such waiver of fine shall not apply to a second or subsequent conviction under this section.

7. The provisions of this section shall not apply to a passenger or operator with a physically disabling condition whose physical disability would prevent appropriate restraint in such safety seat or safety belt provided, however, such condition is duly certified by a physician who shall state the nature of the handicap, as well as the reason such restraint is inappropriate.

8. Non-compliance with the provisions of this section shall not be admissible as evidence in any civil action in a court of law in regard to the issue of liability but may be introduced into evidence in mitigation of damages provided the party introducing said evidence has pleaded such non-compliance as an affirmative defense.

9. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision four, this section shall not apply to taxis, liveries, and buses other than school buses.

10. The provisions of this section shall not apply to persons employed as rural letter carriers, as defined by the United States postal service, while such persons are discharging the duties of such employment.

11. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision four of this section, no person shall operate a school bus unless all passengers under the age of four are restrained in a specially designed detachable or removable seat as required by subdivision one of this section, or another restraining device approved by the commissioner.

12. (a) Every rental vehicle company, as defined in paragraph (c) of subdivision one of section three hundred ninety-six-z of the general business law, shall post a sign in their place of business which states in conspicuous lettering of at least seventy-two point boldface type: NEW YORK STATE LAW REQUIRES ALL CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF EIGHT TO BE RESTRAINED IN A FEDERALLY APPROVED CHILD RESTRAINT SYSTEM. (b) Such sign shall be placed in an upright position and in a conspicuous place where it can easily be read by the clientele of the rental vehicle company. (c) Any rental vehicle company which violates the provisions of this subdivision shall be subject to a civil penalty, not to exceed one hundred dollars for each day of violation.

13. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision four of this section, no person shall operate a school bus for which there are no applicable federal school bus safety standards unless all occupants are restrained by a safety belt approved by the commissioner or, regarding occupants age four or older but under age seven, are restrained pursuant to subdivision one or two of this section.

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