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      RS 32:295.1     

  

§295.1. Safety belt use; tags indicating exemption

            A.(1) Each driver of a passenger car, van, sports utility vehicle, or truck having a gross weight of ten thousand pounds or less, commonly referred to as a pickup truck, in this state shall have a safety belt properly fastened about his or her body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion. The provisions of this Section shall not apply to those cars, vans, sports utility vehicles, or pickups manufactured prior to January 1, 1981.

            (2) A person operating or riding in an autocycle shall wear seatbelts while in forward motion.

            (3) Each driver of a passenger car, van, sports utility vehicle, or truck having a gross weight of ten thousand pounds or less, commonly referred to as a pickup truck, shall not transport more persons than there are safety belts available in the vehicle.

            B. Except as provided by R.S. 32:295 for children under the age of thirteen or as otherwise provided by law, each occupant of a passenger car, van, sports utility vehicle, or truck having a gross weight of ten thousand pounds or less, commonly referred to as a pickup truck, in this state shall have a safety belt properly fastened about his or her body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion.

            C. This Section shall not apply to the following:

            (1) A motor vehicle operated by a rural letter carrier of the United States Postal Service while performing his or her duties as a rural letter carrier, to a farm vehicle being operated within five miles of the place of its principal use, to a motor vehicle being operated by a newspaper delivery person while he or she is engaged in the distribution of regularly published newspapers.

            (2) A motor vehicle operated by a utility worker, including any water, gas, or electric meter reader, in the course of his employment which requires the person to emerge from and re-enter a passenger vehicle at frequent intervals. However, while engaged in such work, such utility worker shall not drive or travel in such vehicle at a speed exceeding 20 miles per hour.

            D.(1) This Section shall not apply to an occupant of a passenger car or operator with a physically or mentally disabling condition whose physical or mental disability would prevent appropriate restraint in the safety belt; however, the condition shall be duly certified by a physician who shall state the nature of the disability, as well as the reason such restraint is inappropriate.

            (2)(a) On the application of any person with a mental or physical disability whose impairment is permanent and prevents use of a seat belt, the commissioner shall issue a special tag for the benefit of the applicant which indicates such condition. The fee for the tag shall be five dollars. In lieu of issuance of the special tag, the commissioner shall indicate on the face of the applicant's driver's license, as provided in R.S. 32:403.2 and 410, that the applicant is not required to use a seat belt.

            (b) Each application shall be accompanied by a physician's statement certifying that the applicant is permanently disabled and that such disability prevents the applicant's use of a seat belt.

            (3)(a) On application of any person with a mental or physical disability whose impairment prevents use of a seat belt, but is not permanent, the commissioner shall issue a special temporary tag for the benefit of the applicant which indicates such condition. The fee for the temporary tag shall be five dollars.

            (b) Each application for a temporary tag shall be accompanied by a physician's statement certifying that the applicant is temporarily disabled and certifying a period of time for which the disability will prevent the applicant's use of a seat belt.

            (c) Any individual who has been issued a temporary tag under the provisions of this Section and who desires to extend the time period for which the tag is valid shall provide to the office of motor vehicles a physician's statement certifying that the applicant continues to have a disability which prevents the applicant's use of a seat belt and certifying a period of time for which the tag should be renewed. Failure to provide recertification statements shall result in the suspension of such privilege.

            (4) No individual to whom a tag has been issued shall do any of the following:

            (a) Display or permit the display of the tag on any motor vehicle in which he is not a passenger.

            (b) Refuse to return or surrender the tag when required.

            (5)(a) If a tag is lost, destroyed, or mutilated, the individual to whom the card was issued may obtain a duplicate by doing all of the following:

            (i) Furnish suitable proof of the loss, destruction, or mutilation to the secretary.

            (ii) Complete an application as required by this Section for the issuance of an original tag.

            (iii) Pay a fee of five dollars for reissuance.

            (b) Any individual who loses a tag and, after obtaining a duplicate, finds the original, shall immediately surrender the original tag to the commissioner or to any field office of the office of motor vehicles and shall not display the original tag on any vehicle.

            (6) Any individual who is not impaired as provided in this Section and who willfully and falsely represents himself as having the conditions to obtain a special tag authorized by this Section shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than two hundred fifty dollars, or shall be imprisoned for not more than thirty days, or both, and on subsequent offenses, shall be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, or shall be imprisoned for not more than ninety days, or both.

            (7) Any individual who utilizes a tag authorized by this Section which was not legally issued to him and who is not transporting the individual to whom the tag was issued shall be fined not less than fifty dollars nor more than two hundred fifty dollars or shall be imprisoned for not more than thirty days, or both, and on second and subsequent offenses, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, or shall be imprisoned for not more than sixty days, or both.

            (8) Any individual to whom a tag is issued under the provisions of this Section and who allows his tag to be used by an individual not entitled to the use of such tag shall have his tag suspended for six months and shall be fined not less than fifty dollars nor more than two hundred fifty dollars, or shall be imprisoned for not more than thirty days for the first offense, or both. On the second and subsequent offenses, said suspension shall be for one year, and the individual shall be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than five hundred dollars, in addition to suspension of said privileges, or shall be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

            (9) Any physician who willfully and falsely certifies that an individual is impaired in order to allow that person to obtain the special tag authorized in this Section shall be fined one thousand dollars, or shall be imprisoned for not more than ninety days, or both.

            (10) The commissioner shall promulgate rules and regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act for the implementation of the provisions of this Section. The commissioner shall determine the design, color, and placement of the tag issued under the provisions of this Section, provided that such design, color, and placement is easily discernable to law enforcement officers as designating individuals who are exempted from seat belt usage and provided that the tag includes a photograph of the person entitled to the tag.

            E. In any action to recover damages arising out of the ownership, common maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle, failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence. Failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be admitted to mitigate damages.

            F. Probable cause for violation of this Section shall be based solely upon a law enforcement officer's clear and unobstructed view of a person not restrained as required by this Section. A law enforcement officer may not search or inspect a motor vehicle, its contents, the driver, or a passenger solely because of a violation of this Section.

            G.(1) Any person who violates this Section shall be subject to the following penalties:

            (a) Upon conviction of a first offense, the fine shall be fifty dollars which shall include all costs of court.

            (b) Upon conviction of a second offense, the fine shall be seventy-five dollars which shall include all costs of court.

            (c) Upon conviction of a third offense and any subsequent offense, the fine shall be seventy-five dollars plus all costs of court.

            (2) Any person who violates the provisions of this Section in Orleans Parish shall have an additional twenty dollar penalty assessed for each violation. The funds collected pursuant to the provisions of this Paragraph shall be deposited in the indigent defender fund pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 15:571.11(A)(1)(d).

            (3) Notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, no other cost or fee shall be assessed against any person for a violation of this Section.

            H. The Department of Public Safety and Corrections shall initiate an educational program designed to encourage compliance with the safety belt usage requirements of this Section.

            I. Repealed by Acts 1997, No. 383, §1, and Acts 1997, No. 511, §1.

            Acts 1985, No. 377, §1, eff. July 1, 1986; Acts 1986, No. 53, §1; Acts 1988, No. 759, §1, eff. Aug. 1, 1988; Acts 1992, No. 1084, §1; Acts 1995, No. 643, §1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, No. 383, §1; Acts 1997, No. 511, §1; Acts 1997, No. 1085, §1; Acts 1997, No. 1261, §1; Acts 1999, No. 926, §1; Acts 1999, No. 1344, §1; Acts 2001, No. 603, §1; Acts 2006, No. 318, §1, eff. June 13, 2006; Acts 2009, No. 166, §1; Acts 2012, No. 244, §1; Acts 2012, No. 413, §2; Acts 2014, No. 811, §16, eff. June 23, 2014; Acts 2016, No. 445, §1.



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