NO. 28.  AN ACT RELATING TO MOTOR VEHICLE PASSENGER SAFETY.

(S.25)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  23 V.S.A. § 1258 is amended to read:

§ 1258.  CHILD RESTRAINT SYSTEMS; PERSONS UNDER AGE 16

(a)  No person shall operate a motor vehicle, other than a type I school bus, in this state upon a public highway while transporting a child under the age of five years unless the child every occupant under age 16 is properly restrained in a federally approved federally‑approved child passenger restraining system as defined in 49 C.F.R. § 571.213 (1993) or a federally-approved safety belt, as follows:

(1)  all children under the age of one, and all children weighing less than 20 pounds, regardless of age, shall be restrained in a rear-facing position, properly secured in a federally-approved child passenger restraining system, which shall not be installed in front of an active air bag;

(2)  a child weighing more than 20 pounds, and who is one year of age or older and under the age of eight years, shall be restrained in a child passenger restraining system; and

(3)  a child eight through 15 years of age shall be restrained in a safety belt system or a child passenger restraining system.

(b)  No person shall operate a motor vehicle, other than a school bus, in this state upon a public highway while transporting a child aged 5 through 12  unless the child is properly secured in a federally approved safety belt.

(c)  A person shall not be guilty of a adjudicated in violation of this section if:

(1)  the motor vehicle is regularly used to transport passengers for hire except a motor vehicle owned or operated by a day care facility; or

(2)  the motor vehicle was manufactured without safety belts; or

(3)  the child being transported has a physical condition which prevents the use of the child passenger restraining system or safety belts where otherwise applicable; or

(4)  the total number of persons being transported exceeds the number of safety belts, so long as:

(A)  all children under the age of five years are restrained in a federally approved child passenger restraining system; and

(B)  all safety belts are being utilized.

(d)  A person violating this section shall be fined not more than $25.00

(c)  The penalty for violation of this section shall be as follows:

(1)  $25.00 for a first violation;

(2)  $50.00 for a second violation;

(3)  $100.00 for third and subsequent violations.

Sec. 2.  23 V.S.A. § 1259 is amended to read:

§ 1259.  SAFETY BELTS; PERSONS AGE 16 AND OVER

(a)  The operator of a motor vehicle shall be subject to a penalty of $10.00 guilty of a violation of this section if any person required to be restrained under this section is occupying a seating position which has been manufactured with a federally approved federally-approved safety belt system and is not restrained by the safety belt system while the motor vehicle is in motion on a public highway.

(b)  A person is required to be restrained in a safety belt system unless:

(1)  a physician has certified in writing that the use of safety belts in one or more circumstances is inappropriate for the person, provided the physician has stated the nature of the condition and specified why the use of safety belts is inappropriate for the person; or

(2)  the person is a rural mail carrier of the United States Postal Service operating a motor vehicle in the performance of employment; or

(3)(2)  the person is a driver or passenger frequently stopping and leaving the motor vehicle or delivering property from the motor vehicle, if the speed of the motor vehicle between stops does not exceed 15 miles per hour; or

(4)(3)  the person is the operator of any farm tractor; or

(5)(4)  the person is a member of the emergency personnel of an emergency motor vehicle and finds it necessary to be unrestrained in order to perform his or her duties; or

(6)(5)  the motor vehicle the person is occupying is a bus or taxi; or

(7)(6)  the person is required to be restrained under section 1258 of this title.

(c)  A physician shall not be subject to liability for issuing or failing to issue a certificate pursuant to subdivision (b)(1) of this section.

(d)  Noncompliance with the provisions of this section shall not be admissible as evidence in any civil proceeding.

(e)(d)  Failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section shall not constitute negligence or contributory negligence in any civil proceeding or criminal action, nor be entered as evidence to bar prosecution of a criminal offense.

(f)(e)  This section may be enforced only if a law enforcement officer has detained the operator of a motor vehicle for a suspected violation of another traffic offense.  An operator shall not be subject to the penalty established in this section unless the operator is required to pay a penalty for the primary offense.

(f)  The penalty for violation of this section shall be as follows:

(1)  $25.00 for a first violation;

(2)  $50.00 for a second violation;

(3)  $100.00 for third and subsequent violations.

Sec. 3.  THE GOVERNOR’S HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAM

The governor’s highway safety program, the department of health, and the department of education shall be responsible for a public information campaign to educate the public about the change in the law and the low cost seat program.

Sec. 4.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on January 1, 2004.

Approved:  May 20, 2003