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New SC Child Passenger Restraint Law

Synopsis of law


South Carolina’s child passenger restraint law requires that:

  • Children from birth to 2 years old must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat until they exceed the maximum height or weight limit set by the seat manufacturer.
  • Children at least 2 years old (or a child under 2  years old who has outgrown their rear-facing child safety seat) must be secured in a forward-facing child seat.
  • Children at least 4 years old who have outgrown the forward-facing child safety seat must be secured in a belt-positioning booster seat.
  • Children at least 8 years old and at least 57 inches tall are not required to be in booster seats if they can sit with their backs against the car's seat and bend their legs over the seat edge without slouching.
  • Children under 8 may not sit in the front passenger seat. However, this restriction does not apply if the vehicle has no rear passenger seats or if all other rear passenger seats are occupied by children less than 8 years old.

Violators are subject to a $150 fine. This law does not apply to taxis, church, school and day care buses, or commercial vehicles.

Entire text of law:

ARTICLE 47.
CHILD PASSENGER RESTRAINT SYSTEM

SECTION 56-5-6410. Child passenger restraint systems; age and weight as basis for required restraining system; standards.

Every driver of a motor vehicle (passenger car, pickup truck, van, or recreational vehicle) operated on the highways of this State when transporting a child five under eight years of age must properly secure the child in the vehicle as follows:

(1) A child under two years of age must be properly secured in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system in a rear passenger seat of the vehicle until the child exceeds the height or weight limit allowed by the manufacturer of the rear-facing child passenger restraint system.

(2) A child at least two years of age or a child under two years of age who has outgrown the rear-facing child passenger restraint system must be secured in a forward-facing child passenger restraint system with a harness in a rear passenger seat of the vehicle until the child exceeds the height or weight limit of the forward-facing child passenger restraint system.

(3) A child at least four years of age who has outgrown the forward-facing child passenger restraint system must be secured by a belt-positioning booster seat in a rear seat of the vehicle until the child meets the requirements for an adult safety seat belt as described in item (4). The belt-positioning booster seat must be used with both lap and shoulder belts. A booster seat must not be used with a lap belt alone.

(4) A child at least eight years of age and at least fifty-seven inches tall may be restrained by an adult safety seat belt if the child can be secured properly by an adult safety seat belt. A child is properly secured by an adult safety seat belt when:

(a)    the lap belt fits across the child's thighs and hips and not across the abdomen;

(b)    the shoulder belt crosses the center of the child's chest and not the neck; and

(c)    the child is able to sit with his back straight against the vehicle seat back cushion, with his knees bent over the vehicle's seat edge, without slouching.

(5) For medical reasons that are substantiated with written documentation from the child’s physician, advanced nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, a child who is unable to be transported in a standard child passenger safety restraint system may be transported in a child passenger safety restraint system designed for his medical needs.

Any child restraint system of a type sufficient to meet the physical standards prescribed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at the time of its manufacture is sufficient to meet the requirements of this article.

SECTION 56-5-6420. Transportation of children with insufficient number of restraint devices.

If a motor vehicle lacks a rear passenger seat or if all of its rear seating positions are occupied by children under eight years of age, a child under eight years of age may be transported in the front seat of the motor vehicle if the child is secured properly in an appropriate child passenger safety restraint system or belt-positioning booster seat as described in Section 56-56410 (1), (2), or (3).

SECTION 56-5-6430.  Repealed by 2005 Act No. 147, Section 7, effective 6 months after approval (became law without the Governor's signature on June 9, 2005).

The provisions of this article do not apply if a child being transported is being fed, has a physical impairment, or a medical problem or any distress which makes it impractical to use a child restraint system. Alternate restraint protection, such as safety belts, must be utilized if possible.

SECTION 56-5-6440.  Persons and vehicles excepted from article.

The provisions of this article do not apply to:

(1) Taxi drivers.

(2) Drivers of emergency vehicles when operating in an emergency situation.

(3) Church, day care and school bus drivers.

(4) Public transportation operators.

(5) Commercial vehicles.

SECTION 56-5-6445.  Applicability of chapter.

The provisions of this article apply to all motor vehicles equipped with safety belts.

SECTION 56-5-6450.  Custodial arrest not authorized; penalties for violation of article; waiver.

No person shall be subjected to a custodial arrest for violation of the provisions of this article. Any person violating the provisions of this article shall upon conviction be fined not more than twenty-five dollars. The court shall waive any fine against any person who, before, or upon the appearance date on the summons, supplies the court with evidence of acquisition, purchase or rental of a child restraint system meeting the requirements of this article.

SECTION 56-5-6460.  Violation of article not to constitute negligence.

A violation of this article shall not constitute negligence, per se, contributory negligence nor be admissible as evidence in any trial of any civil action.

SECTION 56-5-6470.  Enforcement after June 30, 1984.

After June 30, 1984, any person violating the provisions of Article 47 of Chapter 5 of Title 56 may be, when apprehended, issued a summons, to appear in court for the violation, but no person shall at any time be placed under arrest or taken into custody for such a violation, other than upon a warrant issued for failure to appear in court in accordance with the summons or upon failure to pay a fine duly imposed by a court upon conviction.

 

 

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