Arizona Seatbelt Law
You might already wear a seatbelt for safety reasons, but if not, the law in Arizona could motivate you to start buckling up. It is illegal in Arizona to operate a motor vehicle without wearing a seatbelt. It is also against the law to transport child passengers without using proper safety seats. You could face a traffic infraction and fines for disobeying the state’s seatbelt laws. You could also suffer a life-changing personal injury if you do not buckle up during a car accident.
Main Arizona Seatbelt Statutes
Two laws cover Arizona’s main seatbelt requirements: Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-909 and ARS 28-907. ARS 28-909 states that in all vehicles manufactured in 1972 and later, front-seat occupants must use seatbelts while the vehicle is in motion. The only exception is vehicles designed to carry more than 10 passengers, such as a school bus. All front seat occupants must keep the lap and/or shoulder belt (whichever the vehicle has) properly fastened and adjusted at all times while the vehicle is moving.
In Arizona, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers less than 16 years old wear their seatbelts per state law. Child passengers must use special safety seats until they meet the minimum height or weight requirements to wear standard seatbelts. Arizona’s seatbelt laws do not apply to on-duty letter carriers for the United States Postal Service or people with written statements from health care practitioners giving a medical reason why they cannot wear seatbelts.
Car Seat Requirements
ARS 28-907 says it is illegal to drive with a passenger under the age of five in the vehicle unless that child is using a proper restraint system. Child safety seats are critical in preventing serious and fatal injuries. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 35% of children who died in fatal car accidents were not using restraint systems. Any restraint system will not do. The driver must use the proper safety device for the child based on his or her height and weight: a car seat, booster seat or seatbelt.
Primary and Secondary Enforcement
Most states use either primary or secondary seatbelt enforcement. Arizona, however, uses both. It is a primary enforcement state for child passengers and a secondary enforcement state for adults. If you are not wearing your seatbelt as an adult front seat passenger, the police need another reason to stop you, such as a broken taillight or speeding. Then, the officer may issue a secondary citation for not wearing your seatbelt. If, however, a police officer notices unrestrained child passengers, the officer can conduct a traffic stop for this reason alone.
Penalties for Breaking Arizona’s Seatbelt Laws
If the police charge you with an infraction for failing to wear a seatbelt, you could face a maximum penalty of $10 for each violation. Violating the state’s child safety seat statute is a more serious offense. It comes with a fine of $50 unless you can show you subsequently installed a child restraint system since receiving the citation. Mailing a receipt of the seat purchase to the court officer could be enough to satisfy this requirement and avoid the $50 fine.
If you get into an accident and a child passenger suffers an injury because you did not properly fasten the child into a restraint system, you could be liable. The child’s parents could have the right to file a civil claim against you in pursuit of compensation for related hospital bills, physical pain, emotional suffering or wrongful death. You or your insurance company could owe the family thousands of dollars in damages for your negligence. The best way to avoid serious tragedies, injury liability and fines is to always buckle up.