130th Ohio General Assembly
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(127th General Assembly)
(Amended Substitute House Bill Number 320)



AN ACT
To amend sections 4507.071, 4511.093, 4511.81, and 4513.263 of the Revised Code to require certain children who are between four and eight years of age to be secured in a booster seat, to make violation of the booster seat provisions a secondary traffic offense, and to allow a court, under certain circumstances, to grant unaccompanied driving privileges one time to a probationary driver's license holder who, because of a moving violation, otherwise would be subject to a restriction that the person be accompanied by the holder's parent or guardian.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio:

SECTION 1. That sections 4507.071, 4511.093, 4511.81, and 4513.263 of the Revised Code be amended to read as follows:

Sec. 4507.071.  (A) No driver's license shall be issued to any person under eighteen years of age, except that a probationary license may be issued to a person who is at least sixteen years of age and has held a temporary instruction permit for a period of at least six months.

(B)(1)(a) No holder of a probationary driver's license who has not attained the age of seventeen years shall operate a motor vehicle upon a highway or any public or private property used by the public for purposes of vehicular travel or parking between the hours of midnight and six a.m. unless the holder is accompanied by the holder's parent or guardian.

(b) No holder of a probationary driver's license who has attained the age of seventeen years but has not attained the age of eighteen years shall operate a motor vehicle upon a highway or any public or private property used by the public for purposes of vehicular travel or parking between the hours of one a.m. and five a.m. unless the holder is accompanied by the holder's parent or guardian.

(2)(a) Subject to division (D)(1)(a) of this section, division (B)(1)(a) of this section does not apply to the holder of a probationary driver's license who is traveling to or from work between the hours of midnight and six a.m. and has in the holder's immediate possession written documentation from the holder's employer.

(b) Division (B)(1)(b) of this section does not apply to the holder of a probationary driver's license who is traveling to or from work between the hours of one a.m. and five a.m. and has in the holder's immediate possession written documentation from the holder's employer.

(3) An employer is not liable in damages in a civil action for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that allegedly arises from, or is related to, the fact that the employer provided an employee who is the holder of a probationary driver's license with the written documentation described in division (B)(2) of this section.

The registrar of motor vehicles shall make available at no cost a form to serve as the written documentation described in division (B)(2) of this section, and employers and holders of probationary driver's licenses may utilize that form or may choose to utilize any other written documentation to meet the requirements of that division.

(4) No holder of a probationary driver's license who is less than seventeen years of age shall operate a motor vehicle upon a highway or any public or private property used by the public for purposes of vehicular travel or parking with more than one person who is not a family member occupying the vehicle unless the probationary license holder is accompanied by the probationary license holder's parent, guardian, or custodian.

(C) It is an affirmative defense to a violation of division (B)(1)(a) or (b) of this section if, at the time of the violation, the holder of the probationary driver's license was traveling to or from an official function sponsored by the school the holder attends, or an emergency existed that required the holder to operate a motor vehicle in violation of division (B)(1)(a) or (b) of this section, or the holder was an emancipated minor.

(D)(1)(a) If Except as otherwise provided in division (D)(2) of this section, if a person is issued a probationary driver's license prior to attaining the age of seventeen years and the person pleads guilty to, is convicted of, or is adjudicated in juvenile court of having committed a moving violation during the six-month period commencing on the date on which the person is issued the probationary driver's license, the holder must be accompanied by the holder's parent or guardian whenever the holder is operating a motor vehicle upon a highway or any public or private property used by the public for purposes of vehicular travel or parking during whichever of the following time periods applies:

(i) If, on the date the holder of the probationary driver's license pleads guilty to, is convicted of, or is adjudicated in juvenile court of having committed the moving violation, the holder has not attained the age of sixteen years six months, during the six-month period commencing on that date;

(ii) If, on the date the holder pleads guilty to, is convicted of, or is adjudicated in juvenile court of having committed the moving violation, the holder has attained the age of sixteen years six months but not seventeen years, until the person attains the age of seventeen years.

(b) If the holder of a probationary driver's license commits a moving violation during the six-month period after the person is issued the probationary driver's license and before the person attains the age of seventeen years and on the date the person pleads guilty to, is convicted of, or is adjudicated in juvenile court of having committed the moving violation the person has attained the age of seventeen years, or if the person commits the moving violation during the six-month period after the person is issued the probationary driver's license and after the person attains the age of seventeen years, the holder is not subject to the restriction described in divisions (D)(1)(a)(i) and (ii) of this section unless the court or juvenile court imposes such a restriction upon the holder.

(2) Any person who is subject to the operating restrictions established under division (D)(1) of this section as a result of a first moving violation may petition the court for occupational or educational driving privileges without being accompanied by the holder's parent or guardian during the period of time specified in that division. The court may grant the person such driving privileges if the court finds reasonable cause to believe that the restrictions established in division (D)(1) will seriously affect the person's ability to continue in employment or educational training or will cause undue hardship on the license holder or a family member of the license holder. In granting the driving privileges, the court shall specify the purposes, times, and places of the privileges and shall issue the person appropriate forms setting forth the privileges granted. Occupational or educational driving privileges under this division shall not be granted to the same person more than once. If a person is convicted of, pleads guilty to, or is adjudicated in juvenile court of having committed a second or subsequent moving violation, any driving privileges previously granted under this division are terminated upon the subsequent conviction, plea, or adjudication.

(3) No person shall violate division (D)(1)(a) of this section.

(E) No holder of a probationary license shall operate a motor vehicle upon a highway or any public or private property used by the public for purposes of vehicular travel or parking unless the total number of occupants of the vehicle does not exceed the total number of occupant restraining devices originally installed in the motor vehicle by its manufacturer, and each occupant of the vehicle is wearing all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device.

(F) A restricted license may be issued to a person who is fourteen or fifteen years of age upon proof of hardship satisfactory to the registrar of motor vehicles.

(G) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no law enforcement officer shall cause the operator of a motor vehicle being operated on any street or highway to stop the motor vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether each occupant of the motor vehicle is wearing all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device as required by division (E) of this section, or for the sole purpose of issuing a ticket, citation, or summons if the requirement in that division has been or is being violated, or for causing the arrest of or commencing a prosecution of a person for a violation of that requirement.

(H) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no law enforcement officer shall cause the operator of a motor vehicle being operated on any street or highway to stop the motor vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether a violation of division (B)(1)(a) or (b) of this section has been or is being committed or for the sole purpose of issuing a ticket, citation, or summons for such a violation or for causing the arrest of or commencing a prosecution of a person for such violation.

(I) As used in this section:

(1) "Occupant restraining device" has the same meaning as in section 4513.263 of the Revised Code.

(2) "Family member" of a probationary license holder includes any of the following:

(a) A spouse;

(b) A child or stepchild;

(c) A parent, stepparent, grandparent, or parent-in-law;

(d) An aunt or uncle;

(e) A sibling, whether of the whole or half blood or by adoption, a brother-in-law, or a sister-in-law;

(f) A son or daughter of the probationary license holder's stepparent if the stepparent has not adopted the probationary license holder;

(g) An eligible adult, as defined in section 4507.05 of the Revised Code.

(3) "Moving violation" means any violation of any statute or ordinance that regulates the operation of vehicles, streetcars, or trackless trolleys on the highways or streets. "Moving violation" does not include a violation of section 4513.263 of the Revised Code or a substantially equivalent municipal ordinance, or a violation of any statute or ordinance regulating pedestrians or the parking of vehicles, vehicle size or load limitations, vehicle fitness requirements, or vehicle registration.

(J) Whoever violates division (B)(1) or (4), (D)(2)(3), or (E) of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor.

Sec. 4511.093. (A)(1) No law enforcement officer who stops the operator of a motor vehicle in the course of an authorized sobriety or other motor vehicle checkpoint operation or a motor vehicle safety inspection shall issue a ticket, citation, or summons for a secondary traffic offense unless in the course of the checkpoint operation or safety inspection the officer first determines that an offense other than a secondary traffic offense has occurred and either places the operator or a vehicle occupant under arrest or issues a ticket, citation, or summons to the operator or a vehicle occupant for an offense other than a secondary offense.

(2) A law enforcement agency that operates a motor vehicle checkpoint for an express purpose related to a secondary traffic offense shall not issue a ticket, citation, or summons for any secondary traffic offense at such a checkpoint, but may use such a checkpoint operation to conduct a public awareness campaign and distribute information.

(B) As used in this section, "secondary traffic offense" means a violation of division (A) or (F)(2) of section 4507.05, division (B)(1)(a) or (b) or (E) of section 4507.071, division (C) or (D) of section 4511.81, or division (B) of section 4513.263 of the Revised Code.

Sec. 4511.81.  (A) When any child who is in either or both of the following categories is being transported in a motor vehicle, other than a taxicab or public safety vehicle as defined in section 4511.01 of the Revised Code, that is required by the United States department of transportation to be equipped with seat belts at the time of manufacture or assembly, the operator of the motor vehicle shall have the child properly secured in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions in a child restraint system that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards:

(1) A child who is less than four years of age;

(2) A child who weighs less than forty pounds.

(B) When any child who is in either or both of the following categories is being transported in a motor vehicle, other than a taxicab, that is owned, leased, or otherwise under the control of a nursery school or day-care center, the operator of the motor vehicle shall have the child properly secured in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions in a child restraint system that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards:

(1) A child who is less than four years of age;

(2) A child who weighs less than forty pounds.

(C) When any child who is less than eight years of age and less than four feet nine inches in height, who is not required by division (A) or (B) of this section to be secured in a child restraint system, is being transported in a motor vehicle, other than a taxicab or public safety vehicle as defined in section 4511.01 of the Revised Code or a vehicle that is regulated under section 5104.011 of the Revised Code, that is required by the United States department of transportation to be equipped with seat belts at the time of manufacture or assembly, the operator of the motor vehicle shall have the child properly secured in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions on a booster seat that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards.

(D) When any child who is at least four eight years of age but not older than fifteen years of age, and who is not otherwise required by division (A), (B), or (C) of this section to be secured in a child restraint system or booster seat, is being transported in a motor vehicle, other than a taxicab or public safety vehicle as defined in section 4511.01 of the Revised Code, that is required by the United States department of transportation to be equipped with seat belts at the time of manufacture or assembly, the operator of the motor vehicle shall have the child properly restrained either in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions in a child restraint system that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards or in an occupant restraining device as defined in section 4513.263 of the Revised Code.

(D)(E) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no law enforcement officer shall cause an operator of a motor vehicle being operated on any street or highway to stop the motor vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether a violation of division (C) or (D) of this section has been or is being committed or for the sole purpose of issuing a ticket, citation, or summons for a violation of that nature division (C) or (D) of this section or causing the arrest of or commencing a prosecution of a person for a violation of that nature division (C) or (D) of this section, and no absent another violation of law, a law enforcement officer shall officer's view of the interior or visually inspect any automobile visual inspection of a motor vehicle being operated on any street or highway may not be used for the sole purpose of determining whether a violation of that nature division (C) or (D) of this section has been or is being committed.

(E)(F) The director of public safety shall adopt such rules as are necessary to carry out this section.

(F)(G) The failure of an operator of a motor vehicle to secure a child in a child restraint system, a booster seat, or in an occupant restraining device as required by this section is not negligence imputable to the child, is not admissible as evidence in any civil action involving the rights of the child against any other person allegedly liable for injuries to the child, is not to be used as a basis for a criminal prosecution of the operator of the motor vehicle other than a prosecution for a violation of this section, and is not admissible as evidence in any criminal action involving the operator of the motor vehicle other than a prosecution for a violation of this section.

(G)(H) This section does not apply when an emergency exists that threatens the life of any person operating or occupying a motor vehicle and to whom this section otherwise would apply or the life of any that is being used to transport a child who otherwise would be required to be restrained under this section. This section does not apply to a person operating a motor vehicle who has an affidavit signed by a physician licensed to practice in this state under Chapter 4731. of the Revised Code or a chiropractor licensed to practice in this state under Chapter 4734. of the Revised Code that states that the child who otherwise would be required to be restrained under this section has a physical impairment that makes use of a child restraint system, booster seat, or an occupant restraining device impossible or impractical, provided that the person operating the vehicle has safely and appropriately restrained the child in accordance with any recommendations of the physician or chiropractor as noted on the affidavit.

(H)(I) There is hereby created in the state treasury the "child highway safety fund," consisting of fines imposed pursuant to division (J)(K)(1) of this section for violations of divisions (A), (B), and (C), and (D) of this section. The money in the fund shall be used by the department of health only to defray the cost of designating hospitals as pediatric trauma centers under section 3727.081 of the Revised Code and to establish and administer a child highway safety program. The purpose of the program shall be to educate the public about child restraint systems generally and booster seats and the importance of their proper use. The program also shall include a process for providing child restraint systems and booster seats to persons who meet the eligibility criteria established by the department, and a toll-free telephone number the public may utilize to obtain information about child restraint systems and booster seats, and their proper use.

(I)(J) The director of health, in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code, shall adopt any rules necessary to carry out this section, including rules establishing the criteria a person must meet in order to receive a child restraint system or booster seat under the department's child restraint system highway safety program; provided that rules relating to the verification of pediatric trauma centers shall not be adopted under this section.

(J)(K) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require any person to carry with the person the birth certificate of a child to prove the age of the child, but the production of a valid birth certificate for a child showing that the child was not of an age to which this section applies is a defense against any ticket, citation, or summons issued for violating this section.

(L)(1) Whoever violates division (A), (B), or (C), or (D) of this section shall be punished as follows, provided that the failure of an operator of a motor vehicle to secure more than one child in a child restraint system, booster seat, or occupant restraining device as required by this section that occurred at the same time, on the same day, and at the same location is deemed to be a single violation of this section:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in division (J)(L)(1)(b) of this section, the offender is guilty of a minor misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than seventy-five dollars.

(b) If the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of division (A), (B), or (C), or (D) of this section or of a municipal ordinance that is substantially similar to any of those divisions, the offender is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

(2) All fines imposed pursuant to division (J)(L)(1) of this section shall be forwarded to the treasurer of state for deposit in the "child highway safety fund" created by division (H)(I) of this section.

Sec. 4513.263.  (A) As used in this section and in section 4513.99 of the Revised Code:

(1) "Automobile" means any commercial tractor, passenger car, commercial car, or truck that is required to be factory-equipped with an occupant restraining device for the operator or any passenger by regulations adopted by the United States secretary of transportation pursuant to the "National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966," 80 Stat. 719, 15 U.S.C.A. 1392.

(2) "Occupant restraining device" means a seat safety belt, shoulder belt, harness, or other safety device for restraining a person who is an operator of or passenger in an automobile and that satisfies the minimum federal vehicle safety standards established by the United States department of transportation.

(3) "Passenger" means any person in an automobile, other than its operator, who is occupying a seating position for which an occupant restraining device is provided.

(4) "Commercial tractor," "passenger car," and "commercial car" have the same meanings as in section 4501.01 of the Revised Code.

(5) "Vehicle" and "motor vehicle," as used in the definitions of the terms set forth in division (A)(4) of this section, have the same meanings as in section 4511.01 of the Revised Code.

(6) "Tort action" means a civil action for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property. "Tort action" includes a product liability claim, as defined in section 2307.71 of the Revised Code, and an asbestos claim, as defined in section 2307.91 of the Revised Code, but does not include a civil action for damages for breach of contract or another agreement between persons.

(B) No person shall do any of the following:

(1) Operate an automobile on any street or highway unless that person is wearing all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device, or operate a school bus that has an occupant restraining device installed for use in its operator's seat unless that person is wearing all of the available elements of the device, as properly adjusted;

(2) Operate an automobile on any street or highway unless each passenger in the automobile who is subject to the requirement set forth in division (B)(3) of this section is wearing all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device;

(3) Occupy, as a passenger, a seating position on the front seat of an automobile being operated on any street or highway unless that person is wearing all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device;

(4) Operate a taxicab on any street or highway unless all factory-equipped occupant restraining devices in the taxicab are maintained in usable form.

(C) Division (B)(3) of this section does not apply to a person who is required by section 4511.81 of the Revised Code to be secured in a child restraint device or booster seat. Division (B)(1) of this section does not apply to a person who is an employee of the United States postal service or of a newspaper home delivery service, during any period in which the person is engaged in the operation of an automobile to deliver mail or newspapers to addressees. Divisions (B)(1) and (3) of this section do not apply to a person who has an affidavit signed by a physician licensed to practice in this state under Chapter 4731. of the Revised Code or a chiropractor licensed to practice in this state under Chapter 4734. of the Revised Code that states that the person has a physical impairment that makes use of an occupant restraining device impossible or impractical.

(D) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, no law enforcement officer shall cause an operator of an automobile being operated on any street or highway to stop the automobile for the sole purpose of determining whether a violation of division (B) of this section has been or is being committed or for the sole purpose of issuing a ticket, citation, or summons for a violation of that nature or causing the arrest of or commencing a prosecution of a person for a violation of that nature, and no law enforcement officer shall view the interior or visually inspect any automobile being operated on any street or highway for the sole purpose of determining whether a violation of that nature has been or is being committed.

(E) All fines collected for violations of division (B) of this section, or for violations of any ordinance or resolution of a political subdivision that is substantively comparable to that division, shall be forwarded to the treasurer of state for deposit as follows:

(1) Eight per cent shall be deposited into the seat belt education fund, which is hereby created in the state treasury, and shall be used by the department of public safety to establish a seat belt education program.

(2) Eight per cent shall be deposited into the elementary school program fund, which is hereby created in the state treasury, and shall be used by the department of public safety to establish and administer elementary school programs that encourage seat safety belt use.

(3) Two per cent shall be deposited into the occupational licensing and regulatory fund created by section 4743.05 of the Revised Code.

(4) Twenty-eight per cent shall be deposited into the trauma and emergency medical services fund, which is hereby created in the state treasury, and shall be used by the department of public safety for the administration of the division of emergency medical services and the state board of emergency medical services.

(5) Fifty-four per cent shall be deposited into the trauma and emergency medical services grants fund, which is hereby created in the state treasury, and shall be used by the state board of emergency medical services to make grants, in accordance with section 4765.07 of the Revised Code and rules the board adopts under section 4765.11 of the Revised Code.

(F)(1) Subject to division (F)(2) of this section, the failure of a person to wear all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device in violation of division (B)(1) or (3) of this section or the failure of a person to ensure that each minor who is a passenger of an automobile being operated by that person is wearing all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device in violation of division (B)(2) of this section shall not be considered or used by the trier of fact in a tort action as evidence of negligence or contributory negligence. But, the trier of fact may determine based on evidence admitted consistent with the Ohio Rules of Evidence that the failure contributed to the harm alleged in the tort action and may diminish a recovery of compensatory damages that represents noneconomic loss, as defined in section 2307.011 of the Revised Code, in a tort action that could have been recovered but for the plaintiff's failure to wear all of the available elements of a properly adjusted occupant restraining device. Evidence of that failure shall not be used as a basis for a criminal prosecution of the person other than a prosecution for a violation of this section; and shall not be admissible as evidence in a criminal action involving the person other than a prosecution for a violation of this section.

(2) If, at the time of an accident involving a passenger car equipped with occupant restraining devices, any occupant of the passenger car who sustained injury or death was not wearing an available occupant restraining device, was not wearing all of the available elements of such a device, or was not wearing such a device as properly adjusted, then, consistent with the Rules of Evidence, the fact that the occupant was not wearing the available occupant restraining device, was not wearing all of the available elements of such a device, or was not wearing such a device as properly adjusted is admissible in evidence in relation to any claim for relief in a tort action to the extent that the claim for relief satisfies all of the following:

(a) It seeks to recover damages for injury or death to the occupant.

(b) The defendant in question is the manufacturer, designer, distributor, or seller of the passenger car.

(c) The claim for relief against the defendant in question is that the injury or death sustained by the occupant was enhanced or aggravated by some design defect in the passenger car or that the passenger car was not crashworthy.

(G)(1) Whoever violates division (B)(1) of this section shall be fined thirty dollars.

(2) Whoever violates division (B)(3) of this section shall be fined twenty dollars.

(3) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates division (B)(4) of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a violation of division (B)(4) of this section, whoever violates division (B)(4) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

SECTION 2. That existing sections 4507.071, 4511.093, 4511.81, and 4513.263 of the Revised Code are hereby repealed.

SECTION 3. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, during the first six months after the effective date of this section, no person who violates division (C) of section 4511.81 of the Revised Code concerning the use of booster seats, as that division is amended by this act, shall be issued a ticket, citation, or summons in relation to the violation or be arrested for the violation. Instead, the person shall be issued a written warning that states the requirements contained in division (C) of section 4511.81 of the Revised Code, as amended by this act. In addition, the warning shall explain that on or after a date certain, which date shall be six months after the effective date of this section, the law will allow a person to be charged with and prosecuted for such a violation.

SECTION 4.  Sections 1, 2, and 3 of this act, except for section 4507.071 of the Revised Code, shall take effect six months after the effective date of this act. Section 4507.071 of the Revised Code, as amended by this act, shall take effect at the earliest time permitted by law.

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