Booster Seats

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Babies and toddlers in Alabama must ride in infant restraint seats, but when they're about four or five years old they are often forced to use seat belts and shoulder straps designed for adults.

The Alabama House is scheduled to consider a bill today to require children too big for infant seats, but too small for seat belts and shoulder straps, to ride in booster seats. The seats boost the child up to where the lap belt and shoulder strap can be used safely.

The bill also requires that all children under 16 use some type of restraint in automobiles. Alabama law requires the driver and front seat passenger to wear seat belts.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Mac Gipson of Prattville said the booster seat provision leaves it up to law enforcement officers to decide if a child should be in an infant seat, booster seat or adult seat belt.

He said the bill is not aimed at punishing parents. Fine for a violation is $25, with $15 going to a fund to provide child restraints for children whose parents live below the poverty line. Parents would not have to pay the fine if they show a judge proof that they have bought a booster seat.

The proposed legislation is supported by children advocacy groups.