Friday, June 27, 2008

Facing a New Michigan Booster Seat Law

Theme for the week: uncertainties

We have three days before Michigan's new seat belt law goes into effect. This is a paragraph from one news story about the law which goes into effect on July 1, 2008:

"Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a new booster seat bill into law [March 27, 2008]. The new law requires all children in a motor vehicle, under the age of eight and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches tall, to be securely fastened in a child safety seat. The law takes effect July 1, 2008."

Our Predicament

Now, while I'm all for child safety and obeying laws I do have a legitimate concern. My oldest, who is on the autism spectrum will be ten in August and has not been in a booster seat for years. Our problem is that he is only four foot one and looks and acts two or three years younger. (He also has a kidney condition that has interfered with his physical growth.)

I might have to start carrying information around that proves that he is indeed over the age of eight years old. This may come in handy in case we get pulled over by the police or if a well meaning adult stranger who notices our oldest is not complying with the law says something to us.

I think (but am not sure) that the word "and" might exempt us from requiring our son to ride in a booster seat. If the key word was "or" then we'd definitely be required to follow the law. Our predicament all depends on the proper interpretation. I should probably consult a lawyer or write a state representative (ahead of time) just in case we get into a pickle involving this law.

I can't imagine trying to get my guy to start climbing into a booster seat now. As most parents of children with ASD know, trying to to convince such a child to change their ways after several years is more than a little difficult. In terms of safety, a headstrong child with autism who has the ability to spring themselves from a booster seat while the vehicle is moving is definitely not safe. A driver being distracted by a child screaming at the top of their lungs to get out of their booster seat is not safe either.

That said I have two different things going for me. My son is very much into following the rules. If I show him the law, I might be able to get him to comply. The other thing is that my guy loves green and loves comfort. If I find a comfy green seat, or a seat with green material than it may be easier for us to comply. I should probably start looking.

As for my other child, he's been in a booster seat for years. He's five, but small for his age and weighs under forty pounds. Guidelines state that if a child is four or under 40 pounds, then he or she should ride in a booster seat. My little guy, though, won't be happy when he finds out that he'll have to stay in his seat for three more years. He's been begging to get out of the seat for months.



Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Hi, I'm a first time visitor to your blog, also the parent of an autistic child. And I sympathize -- any potential upcoming change in routine for my child can fill not just him, but me, with anxiety!

I have a friend who also has children who are smaller than the average. She says they'll be going to high school in booster seats. ;)

J said...

Hi MPJ. Thanks for stopping by and sympathizing. : )

Anonymous said...

We have a very similar law here. M was in one for a while until I could not take her screaming over how she hated it any longer. For some reason the booster seat caused her leg pain to be worse. She has been out of one ever since and we never ran into any problems with the law.

Maybe having your doctor writing out the situation on a prescription slip and keeping it in the car would help?

Casdok said...

You do have a predicament dont you!
Not sure what i would do!

Nancy N. said...


I couldn't come up with another way to contact you via email so since you have comment moderation turned on this will work!

I wanted to let you know, since you are on my blogroll on Café Autism, that I will be live blogging from the ASA Conference in Orlando.

If anyone has any requests about what they would like to see me cover at the conference I would love them to contact me through the site at! I'm going to focus on stuff for parents.

I can't remember if I wrote and told you this before but I grew up in Mt. Pleasant - MPHS class of 1989. I live in FL now though - no snow here! My grandmother is still in Mt. P, in assisted living at Maplewood. I haven't been up there since 2001 though, unfortunately. I miss it.

Club 166 said...

I have never seen a booster seat that was comfortable. I'm amazed that our kids are able to stay in them on long trips.

Put your hands on those seats. They have the least amount of padding that I've ever seen. I've thought of getting some extra padding (ideally some type of gell padding, but at least some foam) before our summer vacation, and putting it between the plastic seat and the seat cover.