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New state laws take effect Sept. 1

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The Ellis County Press

The Texas Department of Public Safety has tightened up on laws and recently released a list of new legislation to go into effect Sept. 1.

One section of legislation requires all occupants of a vehicle, no matter the age or where they are seated in the vehicle, to be secured in seatbelts.

This law also prohibits a motorcycle operator from carrying passengers under the age of 5 unless the child is seated in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.

An amendment to the previous legislation regarding child safety seats now requires that children younger than 8 years of age are to be restrained in an approved children passenger safety seat unless the child is at least four feet, nine inches in height.

The previous law stated children under age 17 must be properly secured in a safety belt or child safety seat, regardless of where they are seated. If a child is less than 5 years old or less than 36 inches tall, they must ride in child safety seats.

Children more than 36 inches and at least 5 years of age but younger than 17 must be secured by a safety belt.

According to TxDPS, the first offense is no more than $25 for the first offense and $250 for the second.

Tickets for this offense will not be issued until June 1, 2010; before this date, officers will issue a warning.

With the 2009-10 school year right around the corner, drivers should remember it is against the law to use wireless communication devices while driving in school zones unless the vehicle is stopped or a hand-free device is used.

Cities enforcing this law are required to post signs in school zone areas. The operator will be subjected to a fine.

Drivers choosing to carry a suspended drivers license along with no insurance will face a class B misdemeanor. Those without insurance or a valid license has an accident and someone is seriously injured or dies as a result of the accident will face a class A misdemeanor.

For the complete list of traffic and crime legislation, visit www.txdps.state.tx.us

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