The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Seatbelts and Child Restraint Violations

Reference Number: MTAS-328
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: November 10, 2017
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Fines collected for violations of seatbelt and child restraint violations must be forwarded to the state department of safety. However, PC 358 (2017) authorizes the court clerk to retain $5 from the $30 fine collected for certain violations. The amount of the fine varies according to the violation, and the city cannot collect court costs for some violations.

The child restraint law (or city ordinance) applies to all persons under the age of 16. It provides that:

  • The citation is to be given to the guardian, if present, or the driver;
  • The maximum fine is $50;
  • If the child was supposed to be in a child restraint seat or booster seat, the court may collect court costs; and
  • If the child (under 16 years of age) was supposed to be restrained by a seatbelt, the court cannot collect court costs.

The seatbelt law (or city ordinance) applies to all persons 16 years of age or older and provides that:

  • The violator receives the citation;
  • If the violator is age 16 or 17, the fine is $30. (Note: The county juvenile judge must waive jurisdiction for juvenile traffic offenders for the city court to hear seatbelt offenses for this age group);
  • If the violator is 18 years of age or older, the fine is $30 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses [1];
  • The court clerk is authorized to retain $5 of the $30 fine. 
  • The court cannot collect court costs for seatbelt violations.

    [1] Public Chapter 358 (2017) states that the subsequent offense would carry a $55 fine. Municipal courts are limited to $50 fines, per T.C.A. § 16-18-302(a)(2) and Article VI, § 14 of the Tennessee Constitution. 

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