Georgia, like all other 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, has strict car seat laws in place to protect the young and vulnerable in the event of a car crash. Though the laws vary from state to state, each state has specific criteria for certain age groups and children of specific weight and height.
According to the State of Georgia Department of Public Health, children under one year of age must sit in a rear-facing car seat. This is the law regardless of how much the infant weights. When a child turns one and up until he or she is three years of age, the parents must keep him or her in a rear facing seat if he or she weighs less than 20 pounds. However, if the child weighs between 21 and 40 pounds, the parents may opt to put him or her in a forward-facing car seat. If the child is over 40 pounds, shorter than four feet nine inches and between the ages of one and seven, the parents may opt to place him or her in a forward-facing car seat OR a booster seat with a shoulder and lap belt. A person between the ages of eight and 18 may only sit in a regular seat, with a shoulder and lap belt, if he or she is taller than four feet nine inches and if he or she weighs greater than 40 pounds.
Furthermore, Georgia law requires parents to anchor car seats with seat belts or via the LATCH system. They must secure their children into the seats with harness straps. If a parent opts to place a rear-facing car seat with a child in it in the front seat, he or she must inactivate airbags first. A parent may not, under any circumstances, place a child younger than one year of age in a forward-facing seat. If a parent violates any of these rules, the state may fine him or her and impose additional penalties.
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, first offense fines for not complying with state car seat safety regulations range from as little as $10 to as much as $500. Some states also add additional points to a parent’s driving record for failure to comply. In Georgia, the maximum fine for a first offense is $50. The DVM will also add a strike to the offender’s driving record.