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Am I Required to Wear a Seatbelt in Houston?

January 10, 2023Car Accidents

Drivers and passengers in vehicles traveling in Houston and throughout Texas are required by law to wear a seatbelt. However, there are a few exemptions. 

Texas Seatbelt & Child Restraint Laws

Texas Seatbelt Laws

Vehicle passengers eight years and older must wear seatbelts no matter where they are seated. Children younger than eight years must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than four feet nine inches. There are a few exceptions to this law, which include the following: 

  • Back seat passengers, but only if the vehicle they are in has no seatbelts in those seats.
  • Mail carriers
  • Paper delivery crews
  • Garbage men

Additionally, a vehicle cannot be driven until the driver has ensured all children younger than 17 are either in safety belts or child restraint devices when appropriate. 

Texas Child Restraint Laws

Child seats are proven to reduce the risk of a child fatality in car accidents. As a result, Texas’s child restraint laws require motorists to keep all children properly restrained as follows:

  • Children under the age of 8 who are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall must use a child restraint system that complies with the United States Department of Transportation’s standards.
  • Children under the age of 13 cannot ride in the front seat of a car. 

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) recommends the following four-phase approach to child seats: 

Phase 1: Rear-Facing Infant Seats

Children under one should always be in a rear-facing car seat while riding in a car. However, one should be used as long as possible, up to the car seat manufacturer’s height or weight limit. 

Phase 2: Forward-Facing Seats

Once a child outgrows a rear-facing seat, they should ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they outgrow the manufacturer’s height or weight limits. 

Phase 3: Booster Seats

When a child outgrows a forward-facing car seat, they can travel in a booster seat depending on their maturity, according to the booster seat manufacturer’s manual. The booster seat must be in the back seat with an adult lap and shoulder belt. 

Phase 4: Adult Safety Belt

Once a child outgrows a booster seat, they can use an adult seatbelt as long as it fits them properly. The lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt should lie across the shoulder and chest, not crossing the neck or face. 

The longer a child stays in each phase until they reach the maximum age, weight, or height limits, the more they are protected. 

Penalties for Violating Texas Seatbelt Laws

A violation of Texas’s seatbelt laws is a misdemeanor and can result in a fine between $25 to $50 if the offender is 17 years or older. If a passenger 16 or younger is not wearing a seatbelt, the driver will be fined between $100 to $200. However, since a seatbelt law violation is a non-moving violation in Texas, driver’s license points will not be added to your driving record. Additionally, if you are involved in an accident without a seatbelt, it can be used as evidence of negligence to reduce your compensation. Contact Ramsey Law Group today for more information.