Child Passenger Safety
Child passenger restraint required — Conditions — Exceptions — Penalty for violation — Dismissal — Noncompliance not negligence — Immunity. (Effective until June 1, 2007.)
(1) Whenever a child who is less than sixteen years of age is being transported in a motor vehicle that is in operation and that is required by RCW 46.37.510 to be equipped with a safety belt system in a passenger seating position, or is being transported in a neighborhood electric vehicle that is in operation, the driver of the vehicle shall keep the child properly restrained as follows:
(a) If the child is less than six years old and/or sixty pounds and the passenger seating position equipped with a safety belt system allows sufficient space for installation, then the child will be restrained in a child restraint system that complies with standards of the United States department of transportation and that is secured in the vehicle in accordance with instructions of the manufacturer of the child restraint system;
(b) If the child is less than one year of age or weighs less than twenty pounds, the child shall be properly restrained in a rear-facing infant seat;
(c) If the child is more than one but less than four years of age or weighs less than forty pounds but at least twenty pounds, the child shall be properly restrained in a forward facing child safety seat restraint system;
(d) If the child is less than six but at least four years of age or weighs less than sixty pounds but at least forty pounds, the child shall be properly restrained in a child booster seat;
(e) If the child is six years of age or older or weighs more than sixty pounds, the child shall be properly restrained with the motor vehicle's safety belt properly adjusted and fastened around the child's body or an appropriately fitting booster seat; and
(f) Enforcement of (a) through (e) of this subsection is subject to a visual inspection by law enforcement to determine if the child restraint system in use is appropriate for the child's individual height, weight, and age. The visual inspection for usage of a forward facing child safety seat must ensure that the seat in use is equipped with a four-point shoulder harness system. The visual inspection for usage of a booster seat must ensure that the seat belt properly fits across the child's lap and the shoulder strap crosses the center of the child's chest. The visual inspection for the usage of a seat belt by a child must ensure that the lap belt properly fits across the child's lap and the shoulder strap crosses the center of the child's chest. In determining violations, consideration to the above criteria must be given in conjunction with the provisions of (a) through (e) of this subsection. The driver of a vehicle transporting a child who is under the age of six years old or weighs less than sixty pounds, when the vehicle is equipped with a passenger side air bag supplemental restraint system, and the air bag system is activated, shall transport the child in the back seat positions in the vehicle where it is practical to do so.
(2) A person violating subsection (1)(a) through (e) of this section may be issued a notice of traffic infraction under chapter 46.63 RCW. If the person to whom the notice was issued presents proof of acquisition of an approved child passenger restraint system or a child booster seat, as appropriate, within seven days to the jurisdiction issuing the notice and the person has not previously had a violation of this section dismissed, the jurisdiction shall dismiss the notice of traffic infraction.
(3) Failure to comply with the requirements of this section shall not constitute negligence by a parent or legal guardian; nor shall failure to use a child restraint system be admissible as evidence of negligence in any civil action.
(4) This section does not apply to: (a) For hire vehicles, (b) vehicles designed to transport sixteen or less passengers, including the driver, operated by auto transportation companies, as defined in RCW 81.68.010, (c) vehicles providing customer shuttle service between parking, convention, and hotel facilities, and airport terminals, and (d) school buses.
(5) As used in this section "child booster seat" means a child passenger restraint system that meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. 571.213 that is designed to elevate a child to properly sit in a federally approved lap/shoulder belt system.
(6) The requirements of subsection (1)(a) through (e) of this section do not apply in any seating position where there is only a lap belt available and the child weighs more than forty pounds.
(7)(a) Except as provided in (b) of this subsection, a person who has a current national certification as a child passenger safety technician and who in good faith provides inspection, adjustment, or educational services regarding child passenger restraint systems is not liable for civil damages resulting from any act or omission in providing the services, other than acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
(b) The immunity provided in this subsection does not apply to a certified child passenger safety technician who is employed by a retailer of child passenger restraint systems and who, during his or her hours of employment and while being compensated, provides inspection, adjustment, or educational services regarding child passenger restraint systems.
[2005 c 415 § 1; 2003 c 353 § 5; 2000 c 190 § 2; 1994 c 100 § 1; 1993 c 274 § 1; 1987 c 330 § 745; 1983 c 215 § 2.]