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February 9, 2023 | Gary Burger

What Are Illinois' Seat Belt Laws?

What Are Missouri's Seat Belt Laws? Seat belt laws are intended to keep ourselves and others on the road safe. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017 seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives nationwide. At Burger Law, our car accident lawyers are experts in all things related to car safety and car accident laws. If you were injured by a negligent driver anywhere in Missouri or Illinois, discuss your case with an attorney for free at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online. Otherwise, read on below to learn more about the seat belt laws in Illinois.

According to the 2020 Illinois Crash Facts and Statistics, there were 652 traffic deaths in the state where we know if the occupant was wearing a seatbelt or not. Of those, 327, or just over 50 percent, were not wearing a seatbelt. Seat belt-less drivers and passenger account for 17 percent of all "A-injuries," and 6 percent of all injuries.

The Illinois Seat Belt Laws

The state's seat belt laws can be found in 625 ILCS 5/12-603.1. Generally:

  • All drivers and passengers over eight years old must wear a seatbelt.
  • Each child under the age of eight must be protected as laid out in the Child Passenger Protection Act:
    • Children under eight must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system, meaning a child car seat or booster seat.
    • Children under two who are not more than 40 pounds or 40 inches tall should be in a rear-facing child car seat.
    • Children weighing more than 40 pounds may be in the back seat with just a lap belt, if the car doesn't have a combination lap and shoulder belt.
  • For passengers older than eight but younger than 16, the driver is responsible for ensuring they are wearing a seat belt.
  • A driver is also responsible for buckling the seat belt of anyone who cannot themselves because of disability, illness or age.

According to the Illinois Rules of the Road, the seat belt should be worn across the hip bones, and should never run across the stomach. The shoulder strap should always be in front of a driver or passenger, away from the neck, and as snug as possible while still allowing the driver to reach for certain controls.

Illinois Law does allow for some exceptions to those rules:

  • If the vehicle is frequently stopping or property is being delivered from the vehicle, and the vehicle is going less than 15 miles per hour
  • If you have a letter from a doctor saying that for medical or health reasons you can't wear a seat belt
  • You are operating the vehicle in reverse
  • The vehicle was manufactured before 1965
  • The vehicle is a motorcycle or moped
  • Federal law does not require a seat belt for your vehicle
  • You're a post office driver delivering letters
  • You're the driver or passenger in an authorized emergency vehicle, unless that vehicle is from a fire department, the Fire Marshal or an ambulance (unless the seat belt prohibits you from taking life-saving measures)
  • You're the backseat passenger in a taxi

How Are Seat Belt Laws Enforced in Illinois?

Violating Illinois' seat belt laws is a primary offense, meaning a police officer is allowed to pull you over if they see or suspect you're not wearing your seatbelt. They may not, however, use a seat belt violation as a reason to search your car, you or your passengers.

Violating Illinois seat belt laws is a petty offense. A conviction carries a maximum $25 fine and court costs.

Can I Still Get Compensation in an Illinois Car Accident If I Wasn't Wearing a Seatbelt?

Yes. Some states allow a "seat belt defense," which lets the defendant assert that your injuries were partially your fault, which reduces your compensation. However, Illinois is not one of those states, so whether or not you were wearing a seat belt has no effect on your claim.

Missouri and Illinois Car Accident Lawyers | Burger Law

If you or a loved one were hurt by a negligent driver, you deserve full compensation. Burger Law's elite personal injury law firm can ensure you get it. Call us today at (314) 500-HURT or fill out our online form for a free consultation.