Click-it & Backseats – 4 FAQs for New York’s Upcoming Seatbelt Law

Lever & Ecker, PLLC October 30, 2020 Car Accidents

On November 1, 2020, the State of New York implemented a new law that mandates seat belt usage for all individuals in a vehicle. Under the previous law, individuals over the age of sixteen were not required to buckle up in the backseat. But this law will soon change as Governor Andrew Cuomo signed senate bill S.4336 requiring all passengers, older than the age of four, in the backseat be buckled up in a seatbelt. 

A Brief History of Seat Belt Laws in the United States

Thirty six years prior to the signing of S.4336, the previous Governor of New York Mario Cuomo, implemented legislation that required usage of a seatbelt for front seat passengers and drivers. This legislation helped increase seat belt usage in New York from 16% in 1984 to 92.9% in 2018. Mario Cuomo’s 1984 legislation helped increase the safety standards when vehicle occupants were involved in car accidents

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s father, the former three term governor of New York Mario Cuomo, passed a seatbelt bill that was the first of its kind in 1984. New York became the first state in the country to require motorists to wear seatbelts. Since New York implemented the seatbelt law, every other state and territory, sans New Hampshire, has implemented either primary enforcement or secondary enforcement laws to penalize individuals in non-compliance of their respective state’s seatbelt laws. 

When Does New York’s Seatbelt Law Go Into Effect?

A new seat belt law will go on the books beginning November 1, 2020. Not only will New Yorkers have to set their clocks one hour back on the first of November, but individuals in the back seats of any motor vehicle will be required to buckle their seat belts.

With Halloween falling on October 31, 2020 – savvy trick-or-treaters and those out late will want to ensure that they buckle up when they enter a vehicle at the end of the night. 

Does New York’s New Seatbelt Law Apply to Taxi Services & Rideshares?

Staten Island Live has reported that all motor vehicles, including taxis and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, are required to buckle up their seatbelts. All non-commercial and commercial passenger vehicles will fall under the purview of this new legislation and all passengers of motor vehicles need to remember to buckle up regardless of the seating location in the vehicle.      

What Penalties and Fines are Possible From Violating New York’s Seatbelt Law?

Based on the current information available from  the New York DMV – the fine for violating the seatbelt laws can be anywhere between $25 and $100 per violation and the driver of the vehicle may receive three driver license penalty points for each violation. 

This means if multiple people are violating the seatbelt law in your vehicle, the driver of the vehicle could be individually penalized for each individual in violation. 

To ensure compliance and limit penalties associated with non seat belt wearers, all occupants of a vehicle need to buckle up for not only their own safety, but because it’s the law.

Do Young Children in New York Have to Buckle Up in the Backseat?

Based on the current information available per the New York DMV, children under the age of four will need to use a federally approved child safety seat. Additionally, children between the ages of four and seven must use a booster seat with a lap and shoulder belt or a safety seat.

The usage child safety seats and booster seats help protect children remain properly restrained within the backseat of a motor vehicle. 

If you are a passenger in any passenger vehicle, stay in compliance and maximize the safety of your own person, along with other occupants of the vehicle, and buckle up regardless of your location in a motor vehicle. Seat belt restraints help minimize injuries to a person and help secure the individual in an accident. While approving the law, Governor Cuomo cited that about 30% of all highway fatalities were occupants that were not wearing a seatbelt. 

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