Child Booster Seat Law Goes into Effect

August 28, 2006 - Posted at 7:09 p.m. CDT 

POPLAR BLUFF, MO -- According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, the use of booster seats lowers the risk of injury to children in automobile crashes by 59% compared to the use of safety belts alone.  Now the Show-Me state says a few more years in a safety seat could help save your child's life.

"In the mornings, I eat some cereal and get dressed and get my backpack on and then I get in the car and buckle up," said five-year-old Coy Rahlmann.

And it's a routine that won't change for the Poplar Bluff kindergarten student for a few more years.

By Missouri law, he'll be in a booster seat until he's at least eight-years-old.

"It may affect him when he's a little older, he might think he's too big of a boy to sit in a booster seat, but the law is the law, so we'll keep sitting in it," said his mother Susie  Rahlmann.

"They have to be in that seat between the ages of four and eight, unless they are 4'9" or weigh 80 lbs.," said Sgt. Dale Moreland of the Missouri Highway Patrol, Troop E.

Under previous law, booster seats were required for children up to four years of age. Violators face a $50 fine, plus court costs.  And as a new primary law...police have fair game on anyone who doesn't have their child buckled up.

"If we see a child that's not restrained, you will be stopped and enforcement action will be taken," said Sgt. Moreland.

"I try to set a good example and buckle up for him and he automatically does it himself, I don't have to help him," said Susie Rahlmann, "He knows to get in and buckle up all on his own."

And as Coy will tell always comes first.

"The airbags are pretty long, so they could get you if they were longer then they are in most cars," he said.

The new booster seat law is just one of about 130 new Missouri state laws that went into effect Monday.

Other new laws making headlines include:

  • Those with an "intermediate" license - drivers 16 to 18 years old - are prohibited from having more than one other person younger than 19 in the car for the first six months of the license, and no more than three after that, except close relatives.
  • A requirement that those preparing to get a driver's license with a learner's permit complete 40, rather than 20, hours of behind-the-wheel practice, including at least 10 at night.
  • Tougher penalties for injuring or killing workers in construction zones.  Violations in which no one was hurt could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and four points against a license. If a highway worker is hurt or killed, offenders could receive a fine of up to $10,000 and 12 points - enough to have their licenses revoked for a year.
  • Increased penalties for motorists who don't move over when approaching an emergency vehicle. Also, drivers who don't properly yield and are involved in fatal accidents face a $1,000 fine and could have their licenses suspended for six months.