It depends on the circumstances.
Under O.C.G.A. § 40-8-79, “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person under the age of 18 to ride as a passenger in the uncovered bed of a pickup truck on any interstate highway in this state. The driver of any vehicle in violation of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”
As a misdemeanor traffic offense, the consequences can include up to a 12-month sentence and fines of up to $1000. However, like most misdemeanor traffic offenses in Georgia, most people will not face much more than a fine. Also, a person convicted of this code section will receive three points on the motor vehicle record.
The Georgia Court of Appeals made clear, in State v. McDuff, 252 Ga. App. 183, 555 S.E.2d 213 (2001), that minors riding in the open bed of a pickup truck must use a seatbelt, even if the truck is not operated on an interstate highway. The reason for this is subsection (a) of O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1 specifically includes pickup trucks that contained minors, and states that a law enforcement officer may stop and ticket a pickup truck driver for the failure to require a minor occupant to wear a seatbelt.
O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1, Use Of Safety Belts In Passenger Vehicles, states:
(a) As used in this Code section, the term "passenger vehicle" means every motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, pickup trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles, designed to carry ten passengers or fewer and used for the transportation of persons; provided, however, that such term shall not include motorcycles; motor driven cycles; or off-road vehicles or pickup trucks being used by an owner, driver, or occupant 18 years of age or older in connection with agricultural pursuits that are usual and normal to the user's farming operation.
(b) Each occupant of the front seat of a passenger vehicle shall, while such passenger vehicle is being operated on a public road, street, or highway of this state, be restrained by a seat safety belt approved under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208.
(c) The requirement of subsection (b) of this Code section shall not apply to:
(1) A driver or passenger frequently stopping and leaving the vehicle or delivering property from the vehicle, if the speed of the vehicle between stops does not exceed 15 miles per hour;
(2) A driver or passenger possessing a written statement from a physician that such person is unable, for medical or physical reasons, to wear a seat safety belt;
(3) A driver or passenger possessing an official certificate or license endorsement issued by the appropriate agency in another state or country indicating that the driver is unable for medical, physical, or other valid reasons to wear a seat safety belt;
(4) A driver operating a passenger vehicle in reverse;
(5) A passenger vehicle with a model year prior to 1965;
(6) A passenger vehicle which is not required to be equipped with seat safety belts under federal law;
(7) A passenger vehicle operated by a rural letter carrier of the United States Postal Service while performing duties as a rural letter carrier;
(8) A passenger vehicle from which a person is delivering newspapers; or
(9) A passenger vehicle performing an emergency service.
For a police officer to cite someone for violating the seat belt rules, the officer must see the violation with an unobstructed view.
If you have been charged with any traffic violation, call an Atlanta Traffic Ticket Lawyer from our office today.