Older Kids Back in Booster Seats Under New Conn. Safety Law

September 26, 2005

A new law takes effect on Oct. 1 in Connecticut that will require any child who is not both 7 years old and 60 pounds to use a booster seat. And that includes Tal.

“It’s inconvenient, but it’s a good law,” said, Liat Modiano, mother of 7-year old Tal, as police reinstalled her booster seat at a child safety clinic in Hartford. “Safety is the most important thing.”

The 7-year-old from Woodbridge has been sitting in the back seat of his mother’s car without a booster for a couple of years. But now it’ back to the booster seat.

Connecticut had required car seats for children up to age 4 and weighing 40 pounds. But child-safety advocates pushed for a change, citing studies that show children up to 80 pounds or 4 feet 9 inches tall risk spleen, neck and other internal injuries from seat belts that end up draped across their necks and stomachs.

The law has caused some confusion. Children younger than 7 must ride in a booster, even if they weigh a lot more than 60 pounds. So must older children who do not meet the weight requirement.

The new law also requires any baby less than 20 pounds and younger than 1 to be in a rear-facing car seat.

Neighboring states have different laws. In Rhode Island, for example, kids 6 years and younger or up to 80 pounds or less than 54 inches must be in a booster. In Maine, it’s 8 years old or 80 pounds.

“Most of us like to have things very simple, and if we could have gotten it to be a certain height and a certain weight that would have been good,” said South Windsor Police Sgt. Tom Field. “Hopefully they will go back and tweak it so it becomes a little less confusing for the parent and for the police officer.”

Field said police officers won’t demand birth certificates or take out scales when they pull over cars. But they will ask the age and weight of the children in the car.

The law calls for people to be cited for an infraction on the first offense. A second offense carries a $190 fine, and those charged a third time could face a Class A misdemeanor, and up to a year in prison.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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