Monday, September 22, 2014

30th Anniversary for New York State's Seatbelt Law

Hypocrisy, I love it!

You know one of the things I love about NYS is it is progressive. In 1908 henry Ford made driving affordable to everyone as long as you liked a black car. The Model T was a bargain at $260. Soon thereafter America and Americans went to the road in droves. The great American love affair, yours truly included would soon follow. Because of the proliferation of motor cars, and then developing mega-highways the number of accidents also went on the rise.

New York State Passed the First Intoxication While Driving Law

We were the first state with a drunk driving law. In 1910, after countless numbers of people were killed or worse, maimed by unfit drivers NYS passed the first DWI laws. It loosely defined "intoxicated" as being unable to drive. We have come a long way in some respects.

New York State Passed the First Seatbelt Law 

In 1984, NYS passed the first mandatory seatbelt law. Thirty years ago after it passed the legislature they gave people 30 days to get used to the idea of having a belt around them, and their children. Before that time kids used to fly about in cars. I remember once going out the back door of my mother's friends cars on a sharp turn. I was too young to make a big deal of it, I don't think I was hurt, and she never mentioned it to anyone.

It was fun to be in the back of a station wagon, lots of freedom to play, and move about. Safe? I don't think so but neither was the cigarette smoke filling the air. Yeah, they didn't know that second hand smoke affected anyone, the glorious denial of the times.

Seatbelts are NOT just for Adults

Thirty years seems like yesterday before cell phones, internet, social media, and bluetooth devices. The real issue with seatbelt laws in New York is not so much against drivers or their adult passengers.

The real issue is and has been CHILDREN in seat belts. I have four kids, although they are not kids anymore, they are now young adults. They no longer squirm out of their seat belts and they don't usually take them off to get comfortable on longer trips, BUT they did. All the time, kids take off their seat belts to play, to sleep, and to just get comfy. Hard to relax or hours on end with a belt around you.

Parents are Punished for the Sins of their CHILDREN

If it wasn't enough to deal with car sick kids. Believe me, I have cleaned up my fair share of vomit, New York will punish you even if you are NOT to Blame or at Fault or even knew about your kids being unbuckled. The bottom line: Kids cost. They are worth it but it can be painful at times.

Typical situation is a parent driving through NYS on Route 17/86 or Route 390. Passing through mostly farm land, Steuben County, Chemung County, Tioga County, wide expanses of road with nothing much to see or do. They are either going up to Canada or Niagara Falls or Buffalo or just passing through and this long trip is boring and painful to their little children.

The children are squirming and complaining. Their seat belts may or may not be fully engaged or on. Then mom or dad gets pulled over for speeding. This is common and happens every day. The troopers look in the back of the min van or car and see kids improperly belted or unbelted.
This is coded by the troopers (I say trooper because their are numerous barracks along 17/86) as
New York VTL 1229 (c) failure to use a seatbelt on passenger under age 4 or age 16.

VTL 1229 (c) (1) NO Child Restraint Under Age 4         3 POINTS
VTL 1229 (c) (2) NO Seat Belt Under Age 16                  3 POINTS

Who is to blame? Not the kids, the parents are guilty and each seatbelt violation is potentially three (3) points upon their driving record. If that was not bad enough PLUS NYS court surcharges PLUS potential insurance rate increases PLUS if a total of six (6) or more points a

THREE YEAR driver responsibility (more like irresponsibility) SURCHARGE of $100 per year for three years plus $50 for every year for very point over six points. Example: Eight (8) Points =
$200 per year for three years.

Always remember to consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.

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