TITLE 21

Motor Vehicles

Operation and Equipment

CHAPTER 48. OCCUPANT PROTECTION SYSTEM SAFETY ACT


This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Occupant Protection System Safety Act."

68 Del. Laws, c. 34, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 277, § 2.;

(a)(1) The driver of a motor vehicle operated on a street or highway in this State shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt which meets the applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.

(2) The driver of a motor vehicle shall secure or cause to be secured in a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt system, as defined by the applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards, each occupant of the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle who is 16 years of age or older.

(b) The term "motor vehicle," as used in this chapter, is defined in § 101(35) of this title, with the exception of motorcycles.

(c) The provisions of this section shall not apply to:

(1) Any person in a motor vehicle who possesses a written verification from a licensed physician or a licensed physical therapist that such person is unable to wear or use an occupant protection system for physical or medical reasons;

(2) A motor vehicle which is not required to be equipped with an occupant protection system under federal law or has otherwise been exempted from compliance in conformity with federal law; or

(3) A motor vehicle operated by a letter carrier of the United States Postal Service while performing the duties of a letter carrier.

(d) [Deleted].

(e) No person shall install, distribute, have for sale, offer for sale or sell any occupant protection system, including an air bag, for use in a motor vehicle unless it meets current minimum standards and specifications under federal law.

(f) Every owner of a motor vehicle shall maintain all occupant protection systems, including air bags, and assemblies and mechanisms required by this section in proper working condition and in a manner that will enable occupants to use them.

(g)(1) Failure to comply with this section shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes for persons convicted of violations of other provisions of this title.

(2)a. Any person who is found to have violated this section in connection with the prosecution of a violation of any other provision of this title shall in addition to any fine, and at the same time as any fine is assessed to the defendant, be levied for credit to the Victim's Rights Fund an additional penalty assessment of 40% not to exceed $20 of every fine, penalty or forfeiture imposed or collected by the court for the offense under this title. Where there are multiple offenses under this title involved, the penalty assessment pursuant to this section shall be based upon a total fine for all offenses but not to exceed a total additional penalty assessment of $20. When a fine, penalty or forfeiture is suspended in whole or in part the additional penalty assessment shall not be suspended.

b. The assessment imposed herein shall be in addition to the penalty assessment imposed by § 9016(a) of Title 11.

c. Where there is no other violation of this title in addition to a violation of this section, a civil penalty of $25 shall be imposed. The failure to wear a seat belt by more than 1 person in the same vehicle at the same time, as required by this section, shall be treated as a single civil violation. Justice of the Peace Court shall have jurisdiction over actions involving this civil penalty.

(h) No motor vehicle points shall be assessed against any person for failing to comply with subsection (a) of this section and there shall be no entry made on the person's driving record for failing to comply with subsection (a) of this section.

(i) Failure to wear or use an occupant protection system shall not be considered as evidence of either comparative or contributory negligence in any civil suit or insurance claim adjudication arising out of any motor vehicle accident, nor shall failure to wear or use an occupant protection system be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action or insurance claim adjudication.

(j) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, any police officer is authorized to make an administrative stop for purposes of enforcing this section, upon reasonable and articulable suspicion that a violation of this section has occurred.

68 Del. Laws, c. 34, § 1; 69 Del. Laws, c. 169, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 90, §§ 1-3, 5[7], 6[8]; 74 Del. Laws, c. 277, §§ 3-7.;

(a) Every person shall be responsible, when transporting a child through the age of 7 and up to and including the weight of 65 pounds in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets or highways of this State, for providing protection of the child by properly securing the child in all seating positions, according to manufacturer's instruction, in a child safety seat or booster seat meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards, and that is appropriate for the child's weight and height. Every child who has either attained the age of 8 or a weight in excess of 65 pounds and has not yet attained the age of 16 shall, in all seating positions, wear a properly secured seatbelt while in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets or highways of this State. The duty imposed by this subsection shall not apply to any operator or passenger of a motor bus, limousine or taxicab as defined in § 1801 of Title 2.

(b)(1) No child who is 65 inches or less in height and who is under 12 years of age shall occupy the front passenger seat of any vehicle equipped with a passenger-side airbag that has not been deliberately rendered inoperable in conformity with federal law. This subsection shall not apply to vehicles equipped with a passenger-side airbag specifically designed or modified by the vehicle's manufacturer for use by children and small adults.

(2) It shall not be a violation of this section for a child 65 inches or less in height and under 12 years of age to occupy the front passenger seat of a vehicle equipped with a passenger-side airbag that has not been deliberately rendered inoperable in conformity with federal law if such vehicle does not have a rear passenger seat or if all rear passenger seats are occupied by other children 65 inches or less in height and under 12 years of age. A violation of this subsection shall be considered a secondary offense, and no motor vehicle shall be stopped by a police officer solely for failure to comply with this subsection.

(c) A violation of this section shall be an offense punishable by a fine of $25 for each violation. The failure to provide a child restraint system or seat belt for more than 1 child in the same vehicle at the same time, as required by this section, shall not be treated as a separate offense.

(d) A violation of this section shall not be considered as evidence of either comparative or contributory negligence in any civil suit or of criminal negligence or recklessness in any criminal action arising out of any motor vehicle accident in which a child under 16 is injured, nor shall failure to wear a child passenger restraint system or seat belt in violation of this section be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action.

(e) Following May 9, 2002, and prior to January 1, 2003, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security shall implement an awareness campaign to educate motorists about the components of the law and to encourage the public to correctly and consistently uses child safety seats, booster seats and seatbelts.

63 Del. Laws, c. 251, § 1; 66 Del. Laws, c. 409, §§ 1, 2; 68 Del. Laws, c. 9, § 38; 68 Del. Laws, c. 34, § 2; 69 Del. Laws, c. 418, §§ 1-8; 71 Del. Laws, c. 480, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 254, §§ 1-3; 74 Del. Laws, c. 110, § 138; 74 Del. Laws, c. 129, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 277, §§ 8, 9; 74 Del. Laws, c. 316, §§ 1, 2; 76 Del. Laws, c. 60, §§ 1-3.;