In North Carolina, as in many places around the world, millions of people drive cars everyday, and if you are one of those people, you may be asking yourself “Do I have to wear a seatbelt in North Carolina?” The answer is yes, but there are a few other points you need to know.
Because driving a car at any speed can be dangerous or even fatal, the state of North Carolina created the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to regulate the driving and the operating of cars in order to increase the safety of drivers in the state.
Some of the laws and regulations that the DMV have enacted in North Carolina, specifically what we will be discussing here, involve the wearing of seatbelts in cars while driving.
NC Child Passenger Safety Law
We’ve got the North Carolina seatbelt requirements for children here. Any child younger than 8 years old and/or weighing less than 80 pounds has to ride in the rear seat of a moving car in either a car seat or a booster seat, for added safety in case of an accident. In general, this restriction ends based on whichever requirement comes first (8 years or 80 pounds).
Additionally, any child under the age of 16 is required to wear a seatbelt, regardless of where he or she sits (either in the front or back of the vehicle).
Seatbelts for Adults
Generally, anyone over the age of 16 is required to wear a seatbelt, whether they are in the front or back of the car.
Previously, laws required that individuals over the age of 16 (adults) only had to wear a seatbelt if they were sitting in the front seat/seats of the vehicle (the NC front seat law). Now, however, the law has changed, requiring all adults to wear a seatbelt regardless of where they are sitting in the vehicle.
NC Seatbelt Law
In North Carolina, N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-135.2A governs the use of seatbelts (you can view a more readable version of the statue at law.justia.com). Most cars have a traditional three-point seatbelt that crosses over the body and provides a lap belt.
This seatbelt must be worn properly in order to comply with seatbelt laws. If it is not properly worn, a police officer has the right to write an individual a citation for failure to wear a seatbelt properly.
How Did Seatbelts Come to be?
Here’s a fun fact you might not have known: three-point seatbelts were invented and patented in 1959 by an engineer named Nils Bohlin, who worked for Volvo, the German car company.
Through extensive research and development, scientists showed that seatbelts helped increase driver and passenger safety while decreasing serious injuries and deaths resulting from car accidents.
Eventually, most governments around the world started requiring every car to have seatbelts. It soon followed that all occupants in those cars had to wear them while the car was in being used because of the level of safety it added.
In the state of North Carolina, the use of a seatbelt is required, no matter the age of the individual or where the individual is sitting in the car. If you are in North Carolina and find yourself climbing into a vehicle, don’t forget to buckle up and remind others to do the same! It could save a life.
If you or someone you know has been charged with failure to wear a seatbelt, or if you are interested in learning more about the laws of wearing a seatbelt in North Carolina, it may be smart to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help you with your case. Contact us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.