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55-9-602 - Child passenger restraint systems Violations Penalties.

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55-9-602. Child passenger restraint systems Violations Penalties. (a)(1)Any person transporting any child, under one (1) year of age, or any child, weighing twenty pounds (20 lbs.) or less, in a motor vehicle upon a road, street or highway of this state is responsible for the protection of the child and properly using a child passenger restraint system in a rear facing position, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in the rear seat if available or according to the child safety restraint system or vehicle manufacturer's instructions. (2)Notwithstanding § 55-9-603, any person transporting any child, one through three (1-3) years of age weighing greater than twenty pounds (20 lbs.), in a motor vehicle upon a road, street or highway of this state is responsible for the protection of the child and properly using a child passenger restraint system in a forward facing position, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in the rear seat if available or according to the child safety restraint system or vehicle manufacturer's instructions. (3)Notwithstanding § 55-9-603, any person transporting any child, four through eight (4-8) years of age and measuring less than four feet, nine inches (4¢ 9²) in height, in a passenger motor vehicle upon a road, street or highway of this state is responsible for the protection of the child and properly using a belt positioning booster seat system, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in the rear seat if available or according to the child safety restraint system or vehicle manufacturer's instructions. (4)(A)If a child is not capable of being safely transported in a conventional child passenger restraint system as provided for in this subsection (a), a specially modified, professionally manufactured restraint system meeting the intent of this subsection (a) shall be in use; provided, however, that the provisions of this subdivision (a)(4) shall not be satisfied by use of the vehicle's standard lap or shoulder safety belts independent of any other child passenger restraint system. A motor vehicle operator who is transporting a child in a specially modified, professionally manufactured child passenger restraint system shall possess a copy of the physician's signed prescription that authorizes the professional manufacture of the specially modified child passenger restraint system.(B)A person shall not be charged with a violation of this subsection (a) if the person presents a copy of the physician's prescription in compliance with the provisions of this subdivision (a)(4) to the arresting officer at the time of the alleged violation.(C)A person charged with a violation of this subsection (a) may, on or before the court date, submit a copy of the physician's prescription and evidence of possession of a specially modified, professionally manufactured child passenger restraint system to the court. If the court is satisfied that compliance was in effect at the time of the violation, the charge for violating the provisions of this subsection (a) may be dismissed. (b)All passenger vehicle rental agencies doing business in the state shall make available at a reasonable rate to those renting the vehicles an approved restraint as described in subsection (a). (c)(1)A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor. (2)In addition to or in lieu of the penalty imposed under subdivision (c)(1), persons found guilty of a first offense of violating this section may be required to attend a court approved offenders' class designed to educate offenders on the hazards of not properly transporting children in motor vehicles. A fee may be charged for the classes sufficient to defray all costs of providing the classes. (d)Any incorporated municipality may by ordinance adopt by reference any of the provisions of this section, it being the legislative intent to promote the protection of children wherever and whenever possible. (e)Prior to the initial discharge of any newborn child from a health care institution offering obstetrical services, the institution shall inform the parent that use of a child passenger restraint system is required by law. Further, the health care institution shall distribute to the parent related information provided by the department of safety. (f)(1)There is established within the general fund a revolving special account to be known as the child safety fund, hereinafter referred to as the “fund.” (2)All fines imposed by this section shall be sent by the clerk of the court to the state treasurer for deposit in the fund. (3)Any unencumbered funds and any unexpended balance of this fund remaining at the end of any fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund, but shall be carried forward until expended in accordance with this section and § 55-9-610. (4)Interest accruing on investments and deposits of the fund shall be returned to the fund and remain a part of the fund. (5)Disbursements from, investments of and deposits to the fund shall be administered and invested pursuant to title 9, chapter 4, part 5. (6)The state treasurer may deduct reasonable service charges from the fund pursuant to procedures established by the state treasurer and the commissioner of finance and administration. (7)The department of health is authorized, pursuant to duly promulgated rules and regulations, to determine equitable distribution of the moneys in the fund to those entities that are best suited for child passenger safety system distribution. Funds distributed pursuant to the provisions of this section shall only be used for the purchase of child passenger safety systems to be loaned or given to the parent or guardian. (g)(1)(A)Notwithstanding § 55-9-603, any person transporting any child, nine through twelve (9-12) years of age, or any child through twelve (12) years of age, measuring four feet, nine inches (4¢ 9²) or more in height, in a passenger motor vehicle upon a road, street or highway of this state is responsible for the protection of the child and properly using a seat belt system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards. It is recommended that any such child be placed in the rear seat if available.(B)Notwithstanding § 55-9-603, any person transporting any child, thirteen through fifteen (13-15) years of age, in a passenger motor vehicle upon a road, street or highway of this state is responsible for the protection of the child and properly using a passenger restraint system, including safety belts, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards. (2)A person charged with a violation of this subsection (g) may, in lieu of appearance in court, submit a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00) to the clerk of the court that has jurisdiction of the offense within the county in which the offense charged is alleged to have been committed. (3)No litigation tax levied pursuant to title 67, chapter 4, part 6, shall be imposed or assessed against anyone convicted of a violation of this subsection (g), nor shall any clerk's fee or court costs, including but not limited to any statutory fees of officers, be imposed or assessed against anyone convicted of a violation of this subsection (g). (4)(A)Notwithstanding any provision of subsection (f) to the contrary, the revenue generated by ten dollars ($10.00) of the fifty-dollar fine under subdivision (g)(2) for a person's first conviction under this subsection (g), shall be deposited in the state general fund without being designated for any specific purpose. The remaining forty dollars ($40.00) of the fifty-dollar fine for a person's first conviction under this subsection (g) shall be deposited to the child safety fund in accordance with subsection (f).(B)The revenue generated from the person's second or subsequent conviction under this subsection (g) shall be deposited to the child safety fund in accordance with subsection (f). (5)Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, no more than one (1) citation may be issued for a violation of this subsection (g) per vehicle per occasion. If the driver is neither a parent nor legal guardian of the child and the child's parent or legal guardian is present in the vehicle, the parent or legal guardian is responsible for ensuring compliance with the provisions of this subsection (g). If no parent or legal guardian is present at the time of the violation, the driver is solely responsible for compliance with this subsection (g). (h)As used in this section, unless specified otherwise, “passenger motor vehicle” means any motor vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating of ten thousand pounds (10,000 lbs.) or less, that is not used as a public or livery conveyance for passengers. “Passenger motor vehicle” does not apply to motor vehicles that are not required by federal law to be equipped with safety belts. (i)A person who has successfully met the minimum required training standards for installation of child restraint devices established by the national highway traffic safety administration of the United States department of transportation, who in good faith installs or inspects the installation of a child restraint device shall not be liable for any damages resulting from any act or omission related to the installation or inspection unless the act or omission was the result of the person's gross negligence or willful misconduct. (j)Notwithstanding any provisions of this part to the contrary, for any child transported by child care agencies licensed by the department of human services pursuant to title 71, chapter 3, part 5 and transported pursuant to the rules and regulations of the department, such rules and regulations shall remain effective until the department amends the rules and regulations; provided, however, that the department shall either promulgate rules consistent with this part or promulgate rules exceeding, based on applicable federal regulations or standards, this part no later than January 1, 2007. (k)(1)The failure to use a child restraint system shall not be admissible into evidence in a civil action; provided, however, that evidence of a failure to use a child restraint system, as required by this section, may be admitted in a civil action as to the causal relationship between noncompliance and the injuries alleged, if the following conditions have been satisfied:(A)The plaintiff has filed a products liability claim;(B)The defendant alleging noncompliance with this section shall raise this defense in its answer or timely amendment thereto in accordance with the rules of civil procedure; and(C)Each defendant seeking to offer evidence alleging noncompliance with this section has the burden of proving noncompliance with this section, that compliance with this section would have reduced injuries and the extent of the reduction of the injuries. (2)Upon request of any party, the trial judge shall hold a hearing out of the presence of the jury as to the admissibility of the evidence in accordance with the provisions of this subsection (k) and the Tennessee Rules of Evidence. (3)Notwithstanding any provision of this subsection (k) to the contrary, if a party to the civil action is not the parent or legal guardian, then evidence of a failure to use a child restraint system, as required by this section, may be admitted in the action as to the causal relationship between noncompliance and the injuries alleged.[Acts 1963, ch. 102, §§ 1, 2; 1977, ch. 114, §§ 1, 2; T.C.A., § 59-930; Acts 1981, ch. 86, §§ 1, 2; 1985, ch. 183, § 1; T.C.A., § 55-9-214; Acts 1986, ch. 866, §§ 2, 3; 1989, ch. 564, §§ 2-6, 9; 1989, ch. 591, § 113; 1995, ch. 112, §§ 1, 2; 2000, ch. 945, § 1; 2001, ch. 463, §§ 1, 2; 2003, ch. 299, §§ 1-9; 2004, ch. 809, § 1; 2005, ch. 55, §§ 1, 2.]
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  • 55-9-602. Child passenger restraint systems Violations Penalties.

    (a)  (1)  Any person transporting any child, under one (1) year of age, or any child, weighing twenty pounds (20 lbs.) or less, in a motor vehicle upon a road, street or highway of this state is responsible for the protection of the child and properly using a child passenger restraint system in a rear facing position, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in the rear seat if available or according to the child safety restraint system or vehicle manufacturer's instructions.

         (2)  Notwithstanding § 55-9-603, any person transporting any child, one through three (1-3) years of age weighing greater than twenty pounds (20 lbs.), in a motor vehicle upon a road, street or highway of this state is responsible for the protection of the child and properly using a child passenger restraint system in a forward facing position, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in the rear seat if available or according to the child safety restraint system or vehicle manufacturer's instructions.

         (3)  Notwithstanding § 55-9-603, any person transporting any child, four through eight (4-8) years of age and measuring less than four feet, nine inches (4¢ 9²) in height, in a passenger motor vehicle upon a road, street or highway of this state is responsible for the protection of the child and properly using a belt positioning booster seat system, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards in the rear seat if available or according to the child safety restraint system or vehicle manufacturer's instructions.

         (4)  (A)  If a child is not capable of being safely transported in a conventional child passenger restraint system as provided for in this subsection (a), a specially modified, professionally manufactured restraint system meeting the intent of this subsection (a) shall be in use; provided, however, that the provisions of this subdivision (a)(4) shall not be satisfied by use of the vehicle's standard lap or shoulder safety belts independent of any other child passenger restraint system. A motor vehicle operator who is transporting a child in a specially modified, professionally manufactured child passenger restraint system shall possess a copy of the physician's signed prescription that authorizes the professional manufacture of the specially modified child passenger restraint system.

              (B)  A person shall not be charged with a violation of this subsection (a) if the person presents a copy of the physician's prescription in compliance with the provisions of this subdivision (a)(4) to the arresting officer at the time of the alleged violation.

              (C)  A person charged with a violation of this subsection (a) may, on or before the court date, submit a copy of the physician's prescription and evidence of possession of a specially modified, professionally manufactured child passenger restraint system to the court. If the court is satisfied that compliance was in effect at the time of the violation, the charge for violating the provisions of this subsection (a) may be dismissed.

    (b)  All passenger vehicle rental agencies doing business in the state shall make available at a reasonable rate to those renting the vehicles an approved restraint as described in subsection (a).

    (c)  (1)  A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

         (2)  In addition to or in lieu of the penalty imposed under subdivision (c)(1), persons found guilty of a first offense of violating this section may be required to attend a court approved offenders' class designed to educate offenders on the hazards of not properly transporting children in motor vehicles. A fee may be charged for the classes sufficient to defray all costs of providing the classes.

    (d)  Any incorporated municipality may by ordinance adopt by reference any of the provisions of this section, it being the legislative intent to promote the protection of children wherever and whenever possible.

    (e)  Prior to the initial discharge of any newborn child from a health care institution offering obstetrical services, the institution shall inform the parent that use of a child passenger restraint system is required by law. Further, the health care institution shall distribute to the parent related information provided by the department of safety.

    (f)  (1)  There is established within the general fund a revolving special account to be known as the child safety fund, hereinafter referred to as the “fund.”

         (2)  All fines imposed by this section shall be sent by the clerk of the court to the state treasurer for deposit in the fund.

         (3)  Any unencumbered funds and any unexpended balance of this fund remaining at the end of any fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund, but shall be carried forward until expended in accordance with this section and § 55-9-610.

         (4)  Interest accruing on investments and deposits of the fund shall be returned to the fund and remain a part of the fund.

         (5)  Disbursements from, investments of and deposits to the fund shall be administered and invested pursuant to title 9, chapter 4, part 5.

         (6)  The state treasurer may deduct reasonable service charges from the fund pursuant to procedures established by the state treasurer and the commissioner of finance and administration.

         (7)  The department of health is authorized, pursuant to duly promulgated rules and regulations, to determine equitable distribution of the moneys in the fund to those entities that are best suited for child passenger safety system distribution. Funds distributed pursuant to the provisions of this section shall only be used for the purchase of child passenger safety systems to be loaned or given to the parent or guardian.

    (g)  (1)  (A)  Notwithstanding § 55-9-603, any person transporting any child, nine through twelve (9-12) years of age, or any child through twelve (12) years of age, measuring four feet, nine inches (4¢ 9²) or more in height, in a passenger motor vehicle upon a road, street or highway of this state is responsible for the protection of the child and properly using a seat belt system meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards. It is recommended that any such child be placed in the rear seat if available.

              (B)  Notwithstanding § 55-9-603, any person transporting any child, thirteen through fifteen (13-15) years of age, in a passenger motor vehicle upon a road, street or highway of this state is responsible for the protection of the child and properly using a passenger restraint system, including safety belts, meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards.

         (2)  A person charged with a violation of this subsection (g) may, in lieu of appearance in court, submit a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00) to the clerk of the court that has jurisdiction of the offense within the county in which the offense charged is alleged to have been committed.

         (3)  No litigation tax levied pursuant to title 67, chapter 4, part 6, shall be imposed or assessed against anyone convicted of a violation of this subsection (g), nor shall any clerk's fee or court costs, including but not limited to any statutory fees of officers, be imposed or assessed against anyone convicted of a violation of this subsection (g).

         (4)  (A)  Notwithstanding any provision of subsection (f) to the contrary, the revenue generated by ten dollars ($10.00) of the fifty-dollar fine under subdivision (g)(2) for a person's first conviction under this subsection (g), shall be deposited in the state general fund without being designated for any specific purpose. The remaining forty dollars ($40.00) of the fifty-dollar fine for a person's first conviction under this subsection (g) shall be deposited to the child safety fund in accordance with subsection (f).

              (B)  The revenue generated from the person's second or subsequent conviction under this subsection (g) shall be deposited to the child safety fund in accordance with subsection (f).

         (5)  Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, no more than one (1) citation may be issued for a violation of this subsection (g) per vehicle per occasion. If the driver is neither a parent nor legal guardian of the child and the child's parent or legal guardian is present in the vehicle, the parent or legal guardian is responsible for ensuring compliance with the provisions of this subsection (g). If no parent or legal guardian is present at the time of the violation, the driver is solely responsible for compliance with this subsection (g).

    (h)  As used in this section, unless specified otherwise, “passenger motor vehicle” means any motor vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating of ten thousand pounds (10,000 lbs.) or less, that is not used as a public or livery conveyance for passengers. “Passenger motor vehicle” does not apply to motor vehicles that are not required by federal law to be equipped with safety belts.

    (i)  A person who has successfully met the minimum required training standards for installation of child restraint devices established by the national highway traffic safety administration of the United States department of transportation, who in good faith installs or inspects the installation of a child restraint device shall not be liable for any damages resulting from any act or omission related to the installation or inspection unless the act or omission was the result of the person's gross negligence or willful misconduct.

    (j)  Notwithstanding any provisions of this part to the contrary, for any child transported by child care agencies licensed by the department of human services pursuant to title 71, chapter 3, part 5 and transported pursuant to the rules and regulations of the department, such rules and regulations shall remain effective until the department amends the rules and regulations; provided, however, that the department shall either promulgate rules consistent with this part or promulgate rules exceeding, based on applicable federal regulations or standards, this part no later than January 1, 2007.

    (k)  (1)  The failure to use a child restraint system shall not be admissible into evidence in a civil action; provided, however, that evidence of a failure to use a child restraint system, as required by this section, may be admitted in a civil action as to the causal relationship between noncompliance and the injuries alleged, if the following conditions have been satisfied:

              (A)  The plaintiff has filed a products liability claim;

              (B)  The defendant alleging noncompliance with this section shall raise this defense in its answer or timely amendment thereto in accordance with the rules of civil procedure; and

              (C)  Each defendant seeking to offer evidence alleging noncompliance with this section has the burden of proving noncompliance with this section, that compliance with this section would have reduced injuries and the extent of the reduction of the injuries.

         (2)  Upon request of any party, the trial judge shall hold a hearing out of the presence of the jury as to the admissibility of the evidence in accordance with the provisions of this subsection (k) and the Tennessee Rules of Evidence.

         (3)  Notwithstanding any provision of this subsection (k) to the contrary, if a party to the civil action is not the parent or legal guardian, then evidence of a failure to use a child restraint system, as required by this section, may be admitted in the action as to the causal relationship between noncompliance and the injuries alleged.

    [Acts 1963, ch. 102, §§ 1, 2; 1977, ch. 114, §§ 1, 2; T.C.A., § 59-930; Acts 1981, ch. 86, §§ 1, 2; 1985, ch. 183, § 1; T.C.A., § 55-9-214; Acts 1986, ch. 866, §§ 2, 3; 1989, ch. 564, §§ 2-6, 9; 1989, ch. 591, § 113; 1995, ch. 112, §§ 1, 2; 2000, ch. 945, § 1; 2001, ch. 463, §§ 1, 2; 2003, ch. 299, §§ 1-9; 2004, ch. 809, § 1; 2005, ch. 55, §§ 1, 2.]  

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