A Guide to California’s Seatbelt Law - Adamson Ahdoot

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What You Need to Know About California’s Seatbelt Law

March 6, 2023 Robert Jalon
Home » Blog » What You Need to Know About California’s Seatbelt Law

Seatbelts are one of the many features in a car that keep us safe. They’re known to reduce your chances of sustaining fatal injuries by 50% and dying in a car accident by 45%. However, despite their importance, some people still need to be reminded to use them when driving.

How many people die in car accidents yearly while not wearing their seatbelts? Of the 23,824 passengers killed in car accidents nationwide in 2020, 51% were unrestrained. This number shows that even though most Americans use safety belts, there’s still a staggering mortality rate of 47%. 

So, in the hopes of lowering this number, California created its seatbelt law. Here’s what you need to know about California’s new law and how to avoid getting tickets for not wearing your seatbelts through this blog.

How Seatbelts Keep You Safe

Before we discuss California’s seatbelt law, we must first explore how seatbelts keep us safe during collisions. 

Whenever our bodies experience a change in speed or direction of travel, it tries to resist it through inertia. So, when a car suddenly stops, our body will continue to move forward. Seatbelts then help prevent injury, such as whiplash, by reducing the velocity of our bodies as it experiences a sudden decrease in speed.

Our seatbelts will spread the force across our bodies and prevent us from hitting the car’s windshield at high speed. It uses a material that lengthens the time it takes for our bodies to come to a stop and reduce the impact it experiences.

The Golden State’s Seatbelt Law

Wearing seatbelts became mandatory in California around 1986 as part of its laws around car accidents. Since then, anyone aged 16 or older must wear a seatbelt when driving. The rule also applies to passengers in the front and back seats of the car. 

California’s seatbelt law also included the following regulations for passengers below 16 years old:

  • Babies younger than two years old and weighing less than 20 lbs should ride in a rear-facing safety seat.
  • Kids under eight must be seated in a car seat or a booster seat in the back of the car. 
  • Kids younger than 13 should ride in the rear seat.

California also launched the “Click it or Ticket” campaign to ensure everyone follows its seatbelt law. Anyone caught by authorities not wearing safety belts while driving will be fined. 

How Much is The Fine For Not Wearing Seatbelts?

Breaking California’s seatbelt law comes with a base fine of $20 for the first offense and $50 for a second offense. Now, keep in mind these rates are only base fines. Depending on the penalty assessment and other additional fees, you will likely pay more. 

Ultimately, a ticket for not wearing your seatbelts usually costs around $200. And if you were caught not securing children in your passenger seat, the fine could go high as $500. 

Taxi, limo, and emergency vehicle drivers will also be fined if they are caught not wearing their seatbelts.

car seatbelt
California fines drivers found guilty of not wearing a seatbelt while driving.

What Happens If You Do Get A Ticket?

Aside from paying a fine for your offenses, the ticket for breaking California’s new law may reflect on your record. For instance, if you were fined for not putting your child in a proper safety seat, you’ll get one point on your record for three years.

But, since California considers a seatbelt ticket a moving violation, you won’t get demerit points if you were the one caught without a seatbelt on. It’s also worth noting that the state considers not paying your ticket a misdemeanor. 

If authorities ever catch you not wearing your seatbelt, you need to pay the fine immediately and ensure that you were your safety belt in the future.

Do Seatbelts Affect Car Accident Claims? 

Not wearing your seatbelt can affect your claims if you get into a car accident

There exists a comparative negligence principle which means the reward for a personal injury claim can be reduced if the victim is somehow responsible for the injuries they’ve sustained. 

Suppose you get into a car accident and are not wearing your seatbelt. In that case, you can still file a claim against the at-fault driver, but your award will be significantly reduced depending on the degree of fault. 

For example, you filed a claim for $200,000, but the court thinks you were responsible for 30% of the damages caused by the incident. You’ll only get 70% of your original claim, which is $140,000.

If you or anyone you know was involved in a car accident while not wearing their seatbelts, we recommend you find a personal injury lawyer to help you. 

Build A Solid Case Today with Adamson Ahdoot

By hiring a personal injury lawyer to represent you, your chances of winning the compensation you truly deserve increase. They will offer proper legal representation for you in court and build a strong case on your behalf.

A trustworthy firm like Adamson Ahdoot will protect you from the unnecessary stress caused by one mistake. 

Adamson Ahdoot is a full-service civil litigation firm with over 100 years of combined legal experience handling personal injury cases. With our help, you can trust that the best lawyers will handle your case with the intimacy and attention to detail of a boutique firm with the expertise of a larger one.

Our firm is committed to putting our clients first. We proudly serve a diverse clientele with their car accident cases and offer free English and Spanish consultations. Call us at (800) 310-1606 today to schedule your free consultation.

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