Child Seats

§4511.81. Child restraint system required; child highway safety fund.

(A) When any child who is in either or both of the following categories is being transported in a motor vehicle, other than a taxicab or public safety vehicle as defined in section 4511.01 of the Revised Code, that is registered in this state and is required by the United States department of transportation to be equipped with seat belts at the time of manufacture or assembly, the operator of the motor vehicle shall have the child properly secured in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions in a child restraint system that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards:

(1) A child who is less than four years of age;

(2) A child who weighs less than forty pounds.

(B) When any child who is in either or both of the following categories is being transported in a motor vehicle, other than a taxicab, that is registered in this state and is owned, leased, or otherwise under the control of a nursery school, kindergarten, or day-care center, the operator of the motor vehicle shall have the child properly secured in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions in a child restraint system that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards:

(1) A child who is less than four years of age;

(2) A child who weighs less than forty pounds.

(C) The director of public safety shall adopt such rules as are necessary to carry out this section.

(D) The failure of an operator of a motor vehicle to secure a child in a child restraint system as required by this section is not negligence imputable to the child, is not admissible as evidence in any civil action involving the rights of the child against any other person allegedly liable for injuries to the child, is not to be used as a basis for a criminal prosecution of the operator of the motor vehicle other than a prosecution for a violation of this section, and is not admissible as evidence in any criminal action involving the operator of the motor vehicle other than a prosecution for a violation of this section.

(E) This section does not apply when an emergency exists that threatens the life of any person operating a motor vehicle and to whom this section otherwise would apply or the life of any child who otherwise would be required to be restrained under this section.

(F) If a person who is not a resident of this state is charged with a violation of division (A) or (B) of this section and does not prove to the court, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the person's use or nonuse of a child restraint system was in accordance with the law of the state of which the person is a resident, the court shall impose the fine levied by division (H)(2) of this section.

(G) There is hereby created in the state treasury the "child highway safety fund, " consisting of fines imposed pursuant to divisions (H)(1) and (2) of this section for violations of divisions (A) and (B) of this section. The money in the fund shall be used by the department of health only to defray the cost of designating hospitals as pediatric trauma centers under section 3727.081 of the Revised Code and to establish and administer a child highway safety program. The purpose of the program shall be to educate the public about child restraint systems generally and the importance of their proper use. The program also shall include a process for providing child restraint systems to persons who meet the eligibility criteria established by the department, and a toll-free telephone number the public may utilize to obtain information about child restraint systems and their proper use.

The director of health, in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code, shall adopt any rules necessary to carry out this section, including rules establishing the criteria a person must meet in order to receive a child restraint system under the department's child restraint system program; provided that rules relating to the verification of pediatric trauma centers shall not be adopted under this section.

(H) (1) Whoever is a resident of this state and violates division (A) or (B) of this section shall be punished as follows:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in division (H)(1)(b) of this section, the offender is guilty of a minor misdemeanor.

(b) If the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of division (A) or (B) of this section or of a municipal ordinance that is substantially similar to either of those divisions, the offender is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

(2) Whoever is not a resident of this state, violates division (A) or (B) of this section, and fails to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the offender's use or nonuse of a child restraint system was in accordance with the law of the state of which the offender is a resident is guilty of a minor misdemeanor on a first offense; on a second or subsequent offense, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

(3) All fines imposed pursuant to division (H)(1) or (2) of this section shall be forwarded to the treasurer of state for deposit in the "child highway safety fund" created by division (G) of this section.

HISTORY: 139 v H 605 (Eff 3-7-83); 141 v S 54 (Eff 5-6-86); 141 v H 428 (Eff 12-23-86); 142 v S 53 (Eff 10-20-87); 144 v S 98 (Eff 11-12-92); 145 v H 381 (Eff 6-23-94); 148 v H 138 (Eff 11-3-2000); 149 v H 94. Eff 6-6-2001; 149 v S 123, §1, eff. 1-1-04

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