By Joe Kopfler, Houma car accident attorney of Kopfler & Hermann, Attorneys at Law
This past July, Louisiana adopted a new car seat law that all parents and caregivers should be aware of and understand. The new law came into effect after 110 children under the age of 14 died in car accidents over the past three years. Now, all children in Louisiana must be restrained in the back seat. However, there is much more to this law than just that.
The name for the new legislation is Act 51 amending and reenacting LSA RS 32:295(A). It was signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards this past June with an effective date of August 1, 2019. It states, like the old law that children under the age of two must be in rear-facing child safety seats. Those between the ages of two and four must ride in a forward-facing child seat that is equipped with a harness, and only if they have outgrown their rear-facing seat.
Children ages four to nine must sit in a booster seat that is restrained by a lap and shoulder belt. Those between the ages of nine and 12 are not required to sit in a booster seat, as long as they can meet several conditions. Those are that their knees must be able to bend over the edge of the seat, the seat belt must cross their chest and not their neck, and their back must rest against the back of the seat.
When parents and guardians fail to meet these conditions, law enforcement can charge it as either a primary or secondary offense. A primary offense means an officer can pull a driver over simply for noticing that a child is not in a proper car seat. A secondary offense means that if an officer pulls a driver over for another reason and sees the improper use of child seats, the driver may face a secondary offense.
Joe Kopfler is a personal injury attorney and partner at Kopfler & Hermann, Attorneys at Law. Located in Houma, Louisiana, Joe has extensive experience in cases involving car accidents, medical negligence, and maritime injuries. Visit Facebook and Linkedin for more information about the firm.