Minnesota has joined 44 other states in implementing a supplemental child restraint law.
Effective July 1, 2009, youth in a motor vehicle must be in a child passenger restraint system until their eighth birthday or they reach 4 feet 9 inches tall.
Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park), who sponsors the law with Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan), said that an improperly fitted adult safety belt could cause the lap belt to ride up over the stomach and the shoulder belt to cut across the neck. If the shoulder strap is uncomfortable, children often place it behind their back, further defeating the safety benefits of the system. A backless booster seat, which raises a child so the belt properly goes across the shoulders and hips, costs less than $20.
Violation of the law will be a petty misdemeanor, with the driver fined up to $50. However, the fine will be waived if within 14 days the operator proves he or she has purchased a system for use. A peace officer is permitted to provide information to a violator on obtaining a free or low-cost child passenger restraint system.
The law should also get the state some federal funds because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awards incentive funds for child passenger safety activities to states that enact a qualifying child restraint law.
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