After you’ve done your research, you can start writing a first draft of the law!
If you need help finding the right words, talk to a technical writer within the tribe. Or, contact your state’s traffic safety commissioner.
Once I gained a good understanding of car seat laws and what was recommended, I drafted a car seat law according to the method prescribed by the Colville Tribe’s Business Council Rules of Procedure for Law and Order Code Amendment and Codification. The method for law amendment on the Colville Reservation was very procedural and easy to follow. I used the format specified and drafted a law that looked like this:
3-3-13 Child Passenger Restraints – Use Required
- Whenever a child who is less than sixteen years of age is being transported in a motor vehicle that is in operation and equipped with a safety belt system in a passenger seating position, the driver of the vehicle shall keep the child properly restrained as follows:
- A child must be restrained in a child restraint system, if the passenger seating position is equipped with a safety belt system that allows sufficient space for proper installation until the child is eight years old, unless the child is four feet nine inches or taller.
- The child restraint system must comply with the standards of the United States Department of Transportation; and is determined to be appropriate for the child’s individual height, weight, age and must be secured in the vehicle in accordance with both the instructions of the vehicle manufacturer and the car seat manufacturer.
- A child who is eight years of age or older or four feet nine inches or taller shall be properly restrained with the motor vehicle’s safety belt system properly adjusted and fastened around the child’s body.
- The driver of a vehicle transporting a child who is under thirteen years old shall transport the child in the back seat positions in the vehicle where it is practical to do so.
- Enforcement of subsection CTC § 3-3-13 (a) is subject to a visual inspection by law enforcement to determine if the child restraint system in use is appropriate for the child’s individual height, weight, and age. The visual inspection for usage of a child restraint system must ensure that the child restraint system is being used accordance with instructions of the vehicle and the child restraint manufacturers. The driver of a vehicle transporting a child who is under thirteen years old shall transport the child in the back seat positions in the vehicle where practical to do so.
- The requirements of subsection CTC § 3-3-13 (a) do not apply in any seating position where there is only a lap belt available and the child weighs more than forty pounds.
- A person violating subsection CTC § 3-3-13 (a) may be issued a notice of traffic infraction. If the person to whom the notice was issued presents proof of acquisition of an approved, non-expired child passenger restraint system or a child booster seat, and the person has not previously had a violation of this section dismissed, the jurisdiction shall dismiss the notice of traffic infraction.
- Failure to comply with the requirements of this section shall not constitute negligence by a parent or legal guardian. Failure to use a child restraint system shall not be admissible as evidence of negligence in any civil action.