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New Seat Belt Law in NY Affects Ages 16 and Up

seat belt, safety belt, man buckling his seat belt, buckle up

What is New York’s New Seat Belt Law?

New York’s new seat belt law expansion is effective November 1, 2020, and impacts people who are 16 and older. Legislators sought to expand New York’s seat belt laws under Assembly Bill A6163, which requires that no person sixteen years of age or over shall be a passenger in the back seat of a motor vehicle unless such person is restrained by a safety belt. The state’s prior seat belt law only required those in the driver and front passenger seats of a vehicle to wear a seat belt, and passengers under 16 to wear their seat belts regardless of their seating position.

In other words, if you are 16 and up, buckle up.

Regardless of where you are sitting in a vehicle, you must wear your seat belt at all times if you’re 16 and over. Essentially, this means that all vehicle passengers must wear their seat belts at all times because NY’s occupant restraint laws now require people who are under and over 16 to buckle up.

This recent law expansion intends to enhance the safety and wellbeing of passengers, drivers and pedestrians alike. For instance, seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2016 but could have saved nearly 2,500 more people if they had buckled up, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHSTA data reveals that between 1960 and 2012, seat belts saved more lives (329,715, precisely) than all other vehicle technologies combined, including:

  • Airbags
  • Energy-absorbing steering assemblies
  • Electronic stability control

The penalties for violating the recently expanded seat belt law is a $50 fine but can increase to $100 and 3 driving points added to your record if a child under 16 was not buckled up. For background, New York’s occupant restraint law (seat belt law) imposes the following rules, with exceptions to the new expansion under A6163:

  • In the front seat, the driver and each passenger must wear a seat belt, one person per belt. The driver and front-seat passengers aged 16 or older can be fined up to $50 each for failure to buckle up.
  • Every occupant, regardless of age or seating position, of a motor vehicle being operated by the holder of a Class-DJ Learner Permit, a Limited Class-DJ, or Class-DJ Driver License must be restrained by a safety restraint.
  • Each passenger under age 16 must wear a seat belt or use an appropriate child safety restraint system. The restraint system must comply with the child height and weight recommendations determined by the manufacturer. Depending on the size of the child, the restraint system may be a safety seat or a booster seat used in combination with a lap and shoulder belt.
  • The driver must make sure that each passenger under age 16 obeys the law. The driver can be fined $25 to $100 and receive three driver license penalty points for each violation.
  • Seat belt use is not required in emergency vehicles, 1964 or older vehicles, or by passengers in buses other than school buses (seat belt use may be required by the school district). Rural letter Carriers are also exempt while they are delivering mail.
  • Effective November 1, 2017, the driver and each front seat passenger aged 16 or older must wear a seat belt in taxi and livery vehicles.

It’s important to be aware that under A6163, police officers are legally allowed to pull you over and issue warnings and enforcement of the seat belt law, even if you didn’t commit another traffic offense. As a primary enforcement state, New York now authorizes law enforcement officers to give you a ticket even if your failure to wear a seat belt was the only thing you did wrong.

As such, if you got a ticket for violating New York’s occupant restraint law, contact Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. at (212) 235-1525!

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