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Lack of child safety seats leads to DUI arrest

In order to begin an investigation for a possible DUI case in Colorado, a police officer must first have appropriate grounds for initiating contact with a driver.  Without such grounds, an argument can be made that a defendant’s 4th Amendment rights have been violated.  Appropriate grounds for initiating a traffic stop can take many forms – speeding, failure to use a turn signal when changing lanes, driving with an expired vehicle registration – in short, any traffic infraction.  One particular thing that will draw attention is failing to properly restrain children within the vehicle.  This story from Atlanta shows how lack of car seats can lead to a DUI plus additional charges.
Colorado law requires the following when considering the proper means of restraining your children within your vehicle:
  • All children under eight years of age must be restrained in a child restraint system (not simply a safety belt.
  • If the child is less than one year of age and weighs less than twenty pounds, the child shall be properly restrained in a rear-facing child restraint system in a rear seat of the vehicle.
  • If the child is one year of age or older, but less than four years of age, and weighs less than forty pounds, but at least twenty pounds, the child shall be properly restrained in a rear-facing or forward-facing child restraint system.
  • Every child who is at least eight years of age but less than sixteen years of age who is being transported in this state in a motor vehicle or in a vehicle operated by a child care center, shall be properly restrained in a safety belt or child restraint system according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • It is the responsibility of the parent, or in their absence, the driver to ensure that each child is properly restrained. (Source 42-4-236 C.R.S.)
On a personal note, as a former paramedic, I’ve seen far too many seriously injured children in motor vehicle collisions who were not restrained.   Most of these children would have had no injuries or had their injuries significantly reduced had they been properly restrained.  Additionally, please avoid drinking and driving with children in the car.  It endangers your children and it makes the work of your DUI attorney much more difficult.