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New law calls for older kids to be put in a booster seat

WILLMAR -- Parents who took the booster seat out of the car when their child started school may have to dig it out again, and parents who've already disposed of their car seat may have to go buy a new one.

Starting July 1, children who are under the age of eight and are also less than 4-feet-9-inches tall must be properly secured in a booster seat that meets federal guidelines.

Parents who don't follow the new law will face a $50 ticket, said Marilee Dorn, crime prevention officer with the Willmar Police Department.

Once fees are added, the ticket will cost $140 if issued in Kandiyohi County District Court.

"That would buy you a pretty good car seat," said Dorn.

The change will be hard for some to make.

"I know there's going to be some upset kids out there," said Dorn, who has a son who is eight-years-old but doesn't meet the height requirement. Although he wouldn't be required to be buckled in a booster seat under state law, he does use one.

"This will protect those kids that are too small for adult seat belts. They're the ones that are being injected from vehicles and receiving severe abdominal injuries from improperly fitting belts," said Dorn.

The law does parents a break if they purchase and install a booster seat within 14 days of the receiving the ticket. A safety officer, like Dorn, must see that the seat is properly installed and sign-off on the ticket before it's taken to the court administrator to be rescinded.

When it comes to proving a child's age if police question the need for a booster seat, Dorn said she hopes parents will be honest.

"We hope that people wouldn't lie in front of their children. Ethically it would be unacceptable," she said.

And when it comes to protecting children, parents need to do what's right.

"They're precious," she said. "You can't replace them."

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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