WALHALLA, SC (OCONEE CO. SHERIFF’S OFFICE) – With new legislation recently passed in Columbia by the South Carolina Legislature on new vehicle child restraint laws, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is issuing this press release today in order to inform our citizens about changes in the law.
“The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for keeping all of the citizens of Oconee County safe,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “Part of that responsibility is to inform and educate our citizens when changes in laws occurs that could affect them and their families and in the interest of full transparency, we wanted to pass this information along in order to help parents and children remain safe.”
The law, which went into effect on May 19th of this year, covers six different areas:
• In regards to rear facing car seats, the former law stated children from birth to age one weighing less than 20 pounds had to be in a rear facing seat. The new law states that children from birth to age two must be rear facing in a rear passenger seat until the child exceeds the height or weight limit of the child’s rear facing car seat.
• Secondly, the old law stated that a child ages one to six weighing between 20 and 40 pounds could be in a forward facing seat with a harness. The new law states that a child at least two years of age or a child under age two who has outgrown their rear facing seat needs to be secured in a forward-facing car seat in a rear passenger seat. The new law also notes that a child should not move forward to a booster seat until they exceed the height or weight of their forward-facing seat, however, this can occur at different ages for children. Remember the term “fit” drives the decision, not the age of the child.
• In regards to booster seats, the old law states that a child ages one to six weighing between 40 to 80 pounds can be in a booster seat. The new law states that a child at least four years of age who has outgrown their forward-facing seat needs to be secured in a rear passenger seat until they can meet the height and fit requirements for an adult safety seat belt.
• Fourth, under the old law, children ages one to six who weighs more than 80 pounds could wear a seat belt. Under the new law, a child at least 8 years of age or who is at least 4’9” tall may be restrained with a seat belt if the lap belt fits across the child’s things and hips, not across the abdomen; the shoulder belt crosses the center of the child’s chest and not the neck; and the child is able to sit with his or her back against the seat without slouching.
• In regards to riding in a front seat, the previous law stated that a child must be age six or older in the front seat unless the car had no rear passenger seat or the rear passenger seat fully occupied by children under the age of six. The new law states that only a child who is capable of meeting the fit requirements for an adult seat belt can sit in the front seat. There is an exception for vehicles with no rear passenger seat or vehicles whose rear passenger seating is occupied by children under the age of eight.
• There are two special exceptions. First, 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 standard child passenger safety restraint system designed for his medical needs. Also, any portion of a recreational vehicle that is equipped with temporary living quarters shall be considered a rear passenger seat.
“On June 1st, the Sheriff’s Office issued a citation against an individual who was arrested for reckless driving in regards to a child passenger restraint violation,” continues Sheriff Crenshaw. “There was a three year old, according to our deputy, in the floor board of the cab of the pickup and two juveniles were located in the bed of the pickup, which was a Dodge Ram 1500 pickup. The Sheriff’s Office will issue citations to individuals who do not have children property restrained in their vehicles according to the law. The safety of all our citizens is our upmost priority.”