The hot weather is here already and whether you're headed up to lakes and mountains, or heading 'down the shore,' don't forget to use those seat belts and car seats! And pet restraints, too!
Most of you are likely aware of New Jersey's seat belt law, N.J.S.A. 39:3-76.2f, which requires the use of a seatbelt by occupants of all passenger vehicles, which includes vans, pick-up trucks, and sport-utility vehicles. Any passenger, at least 8 years old but less than 18 years old, as well as the driver and front seat passenger must wear that seatbelt! This statute was amended in 2010 to allow police to issue tickets to unbuckled back seat occupants who are 18 years old or older.
Kids? Those up to 8 years old or 80 pounds must ride in a safety or booster seat in the rear of the vehicle. No front seat? Then the child must sit in the front seat secured by a child safety seat or booster seat. If the child is 8-18 years old, he or she has to wear the seat belt anywhere in the vehicle.
It is worth reminding here that these seatbelt laws, which are clearly beneficial to the public, are considered secondary offenses. See N.J.S.A. 39:3-76.2n. Translation: you can only be cited for a seatbelt violation once you have been pulled over for some other suspected motor vehicle violation.
And those of you with pets? Keep in mind that N.J.S.A. 4:22-17 provides penalties for animal cruelty. Further, N.J.S.A. 4:22-18 addresses "a person who shall carry, or cause to be carried, a living animal or creature in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner, shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense...." (That's a $250-$1,000.00 fine and no more than 6 months in jail). And that's only for a first offense. [Please see the full statute for additional penalties for repeat offenders].
So use those seat belts, get the proper child or pet restraint, and enjoy safe travels.
My best to all for the upcoming Summer.