New booster seat law takes effect on Jan 1st

VISALIA, California

Current law requires children up to age 6 or 60 pounds to be restrained in a booster seat. Starting Sunday, a new law goes into effect requiring children to use a booster seat up to age 8 or a height of 4-feet-9-inches.

Drivers with kids in the backseat need to be wary of a new law going into effect on January 1st, 2012. The law requires children to now be restrained in a booster seat in the back seat up to eight years old or until they reach the height of 4' 9".

Visalia traffic officer Brent Miller said the law makes more sense than previous requirements. "We're all different shapes and sizes. My son is a skinny guy but he's very tall, so the weight issue he's just now barely 70 pounds and he's 11 years old."

Miller said his son outgrew a booster seat before he hit 60 pounds. He hopes the law will provide children with the best protection in a crash. "You're looking for the seatbelt to fit across the collar then down across the breast bone and to the right hip or the left hip depending on what side of the car."

Parents at target in South Visalia think the new law is a good idea.

"As you can see I have little kids so I'm really for it my youngest is 29 pounds and he's 4," said mother Nandie Kaufman.

Target employees said they haven't had a rush of people buying car seats for the new law, but they expect more people to buy one in January. "After the new year probably once the guests know that it's going to go into effect then they'll probably start coming in," said Maria Bocanegra with Target.

January first, officers say they will be out enforcing the new law during traffic stops, at D.U.I. checkpoints, or if there's a blatant visual violation of the law. "If it's a speeding ticket a red light ticket and the child is not restrained properly then I can also issue the cituation for that as well," said Miller.

Officers say this is not a ticket you want to take lightly. The initial costs start at $475 -- that's more than twice as much as a seatbelt violation for an adult.

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